COVID-19: Information for students

COVID-19: Information for students

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Joining us at CAT from September

We are busy making arrangements to welcome students back to CAT this September.

Since March, all CAT students have been studying entirely via distance learning, and we’ve received great feedback on their experience.

From September, students will again be able to join us at CAT for our unique on-site study visits.

On-site study visits

To support everyone’s safety and wellbeing, we are making a few changes to the way we teach on site at CAT. 

One of the ways that we can allow a safe return to in-person learning is to have a limit on the number of students at CAT at any one time. 

For MArch students, this means fourth and fifth years will be taught on separate weeks.

For MSc students, during our busiest modules we are offering practical-focused shorter study visits to allow as many people as possible to have the option of taking part. These will be accompanied by online learning. 

You’ll find more details in the FAQ section at the bottom of this page.

Full distance learning will continue to be an option for MSc students, should you prefer to study entirely from home.

What to expect when you come to CAT

We are putting in place a range of additional measures to support everyone’s safety and wellbeing whilst continuing to deliver a first class learning experience.

Key measures include:

  • Support for 2m distancing through reduced occupancy of study rooms, bedrooms and café spaces, with staggered breaks and mealtimes for larger groups.
  • Enhanced cleaning and hygiene arrangements, including regular cleaning of communal spaces and touchpoints, and provision of hand sanitiser stations.
  • Bedrooms will be single occupancy only, with additional single occupancy accommodation provided in the local area as needed.
  • Face coverings will be required for indoor settings except in specific circumstances.

Students must not come to CAT if they have had COVID-19 symptoms in the previous two weeks, or if they have been in contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms during this time.

More detailed information on these and other measures can be found below in our FAQ section.

Welsh Government guidelines

Whilst travelling within Wales and whilst at CAT all students must follow Welsh Government guidelines aimed at keeping you and others safe. Please note that these guidelines may be different from those in place elsewhere in the UK.

All of our plans are subject to alteration should government guidelines be updated or the situation change. We are following advice closely and will update this page if there are any changes.

We’re really looking forward to welcoming everyone back to CAT and getting to know all of our new students, whether in person or via distance learning.

If you have any queries, please get in touch – we’re getting a lot enquiries at the moment so it may take us a little longer than usual to respond. 


General information for all students

When will face-to-face teaching resume, and what will be the key changes?

From September 2020, we will be ready to welcome students back to site. Distance learning will continue to be an option for MSc students, should you prefer to study entirely from home.

Different changes to on-site teaching arrangements are in place for MSc and MArch students – please take a look at the relevant FAQs below for details.

Key measures that apply across all courses include single occupancy bedrooms, reduced occupancy teaching and eating spaces, and one-way entries and exits where possible. We’ll also be increasing the frequency of cleaning shared spaces. 

We will need your help in protecting other students, staff and the local community while you’re studying at CAT. This includes following Welsh Government guidelines, respecting 2m distancing rules, wearing face coverings when indoors (with a few exceptions) and regularly washing your hands.

Students must not come to CAT if they have had COVID-19 symptoms in the previous two weeks, or if they have been in contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms during this time.

If you have been shielding due to being in a vulnerable category for COVID-19, please inform us of this when booking.

You’ll find more information on these measures in the FAQs below.

How will 2m distancing be supported while students are at CAT?

Accommodation will be single occupancy bedrooms only (see accommodation FAQ), and the cafe will serve food in specified locations, with staggered meal and break times for larger groups (see cafe FAQ).

Teaching spaces will be number limited, with changes to timetables to support this.

Where possible we will have separate entry and exit routes to help to reduce crossover of participants. These will be clearly marked.

All indoor teaching, cafe and accommodation spaces will be well ventilated, and we will be making the most of our outdoor teaching and eating spaces.

We ask all students to please be patient with others and follow the 2m social distancing rule at all times whilst on site.

How will the on-site practical activities be run ensuring social distancing?

We believe in learning through doing, and practical sessions are an important part of our on-site student experience.

We aim to keep the practical activities as interactive as possible whilst ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff and students. 

We will put in place measures to support 2m distancing during indoor and outdoor sessions. This will mean adapting some practical activities – your tutor will provide you with details during the module.

What cleaning and hygiene arrangements will be in place during the on-site teaching blocks?

Whilst CAT has a range of indoor and outdoor teaching locations, indoor classes will be restricted to the WISE building. The Sheppard Lecture Theatre and teaching rooms in WISE will be thoroughly cleaned prior to each study visit and during breaks. 

Communal toilets, spaces and touch points will be cleaned regularly during the day.

Hand sanitising stations will also be available around the WISE building and the CAT site.

We ask all students to help protect themselves and others through regular handwashing.

What’s your policy on face masks?

When indoors at CAT all staff and students are required to wear face coverings or masks – please ensure that you bring a suitable face covering with you. 

The exceptions to this rule are:

  • When alone in a room or bedroom;
  • Eating and drinking in the café – people will be seated at a suitable distance from one another;
  • Staff delivering presentations – presenters will be at a greater than 2m distance;
  • Where individuals have medical exemption.

When outdoors, face coverings are optional, unless you are engaged in a teaching activity in which the risk assessment dictates that you wear face coverings or PPE for safe working. Your tutor will advise you of these situations in advance of the activity.

What accommodation is on offer and how do I book?

We will be opening up our WISE bedrooms, which all have en-suite toilets and showers, but will be operating them as single occupancy only rather than the usual shared rooms. 

Through working with providers in the local area we will have access to additional single occupancy bedrooms at Plas Talgarth near Machynlleth, and some students will be given accommodation there.

For parity, all students will be charged the same flat fee (£45 per night) for full board accommodation. 

Where required, students will be bussed between Plas Talgarth and CAT. There will be no additional charge for transport.

We will include details of how to book in new student welcome packs, and current students will be sent this information.

I won’t need accommodation on-site for the study visit, can I still attend?

Please get in touch if you would like to join an on-site study visit and don’t need to use CAT’s accommodation.

Because we need to carefully plan seating for socially distanced meals, students who live locally will still need to book their place and join us at CAT for breakfast, lunch and dinner, at a charge of £15 per day.

What happens if I have to cancel my booked accommodation? What’s your refund policy?

If you need to cancel accommodation due to COVID you’ll be able to transfer credit for accommodation for a future module.

For cancellation for other reasons, please refer to our standard Fees Terms and Conditions.

How will the cafe operate?

All students, whether staying at CAT, Plas Talgarth or elsewhere, will receive food through CAT catering. This will enable CAT to operate the café using social distancing rules.

CAT will provide breakfast, lunch, dinner and teas and coffees, with costs included in your accommodation costs. 

If numbers are such that we can’t maintain physical distancing in the dining area, participants will be split into groups with staggered meal times at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Self-service of meals is not possible. Catering staff and volunteers will wear masks, aprons and gloves when preparing or serving food. Food will be served at specified locations within the café area.

If you have any food allergies please notify us in advance, so we can make arrangements for you.

What is the best way to travel to CAT for the on-site teaching?

If you are travelling by car, then it is recommended that you travel as an individual to maintain social distancing. We have adequate parking for you on site.

If you plan to travel by train or bus, please refer to Welsh Government guidelines on using public transport before planning your trip as restrictions may be in place at the time of travelling.

We’re only three miles from Machynlleth, with a Sustrans cycle route linking us to the town. The route is around 45-60 minutes on foot or 15-25 minutes by bike through the beautiful Mid Wales countryside, including a short section that crosses grazing lands.

Buses (34 and T2) or taxis are also available.

I will be travelling from outside Wales – are any additional measures in place?

If you are travelling from outside Wales but from within the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands), please note that Welsh Government guidelines may be different from those in your area. Please check the latest guidelines before planning your travel.

If you are travelling from outside the Common Travel Area, please note that additional restrictions may apply, or may be introduced during your stay. You may need to quarantine before coming to CAT. Please check the latest FCO foreign travel advice as well as Welsh Government guidelines before planning your travel.

What should I do if the area I live in comes under local lockdown?

All students should follow any restrictions in their area, and should not travel to CAT if they live in an area where only essential travel is allowed.

If you need to cancel accommodation due to a local lockdown, you’ll be able to transfer credit for accommodation to a future module.

What happens if someone becomes ill whilst at CAT?

Should a student fall ill whilst here we would ask that arrangements are made to return home safely, avoiding public transport, and to enter self-isolation.

Whilst arrangements are made the student will be asked to remain isolated in their room, with food and other essentials being delivered to them safely. 

The room will remain unused for a minimum of 72 hours and then deep cleaned.

What if someone becomes ill after being at CAT? What provisions are in place?

Should a student fall ill within a week of being on site, we ask you to contact us so that we can contact anyone who was on site at the same time, so that they can follow government guidelines on self-isolation and testing.

Please note that in these circumstances we will not divulge any names or details of individuals in our communications with the student cohort.

Students’ contact information may also be shared with NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect if required within 21 days of your visit. Please see our Privacy Notice for details.

What will happen if the situation or government regulations change?

We are monitoring the situation daily, and all of the information on this page is subject to change based on government guidelines.

If Welsh Government guidance changes due to a worsening COVID environment, we may have to move to full distance learning. We are well placed to do this thanks to our existing blended learning approach. To get a feel for how CAT staff and students adapted to lockdown, you can read some of the students’ stories on the CAT blog.

Should the situation change when students are already studying on site, we will clear the site in an orderly manner and support students to return home. 

In these circumstances we will refund any unused accommodation and food costs. 

We will circulate any information of this type as soon as we receive it.

MSc students

How will you be offering the MSc on-site study visits in 2020-21?

To allow as many people as possible to take part in on-site study visits whilst maintaining social distancing, we are splitting the on-site teaching week into two blocks, arriving on Sunday evening and departing on Wednesday morning, and arriving on Wednesday evening and departing on Saturday morning.

On-site teaching activities will include the important induction sessions and more practical activities, and these will be supported through blended learning online, including streamed and recorded lectures, interactive tutorials and seminars, and one-to-one tutor support.

The on-site teaching blocks are allocated according to course.

Sunday 13 September to Wednesday 16 September:

  • Green Building
  • Sustainability and Adaptation in the Built Environment
  • Sustainability in Energy Provision and Demand Management
  • Sustainability and Behaviour Change

Wednesday 16 September to Saturday 19 September:

  • Sustainability and Ecology
  • Sustainable Food and Natural Resources
  • Sustainability and Adaptation
  • Sustainability and Adaptation Planning

As the COVID-19 situation changes, we may be able to allow for a full week of on-site teaching, depending on the number of students wishing to join us at CAT. We will be keeping this under review and updating these pages as information becomes available.

All MSc modules are also available via distance learning, should you prefer to study entirely from home. You can choose whether to join an on-site study visit on a module-by-module basis.

Details of how to book will be sent to current students and included in new student welcome packs.

What are the alternatives to joining the on-site study visit?

The unique structure of our MSc courses allows us to offer students the option to study on-site, via distance learning, or through a mix of both, which provides real flexibility.

If you prefer not to join us in September you can simply take that module via distance learning. You can then choose which, if any, on-site teaching blocks you would like to attend in future.

You can read on the CAT blog some recent student experiences of studying via distance learning.

I will be taking the first module via distance learning, what should I expect?

If you choose to take a module via distance learning, you will be part of an active and lively online community. Alongside a mix of UK and international students, you will study with the same lecturers and tutors who teach on the residential study weeks, including CAT’s in-house teaching staff and a range of expert visiting and guest lecturers. 

All students, whether joining us in person or studying at a distance, use our awarding bodies’ online learning environment platforms (either Moodle or Canvas) for access to lecture recordings, slides and notes. 

You’ll also be able to join online seminars and discussion groups, take part in practical exercises, have individual contact with your tutor and the student support team, and access online books and articles.

You can read more about online learning on our distance learning pages, and you can read on the CAT blog some recent student experiences of studying at a distance.

MArch students

How will you be offering the MArch on-site teaching weeks in 2020-21?

Because of the small group size for our MArch course, we are able to run full teaching weeks on site as usual whilst supporting 2m social distancing. 

Fourth and fifth year students will be taught on separate weeks, coming together for online sessions.

  • Fifth years will be on site for the week beginning Sunday 20 September.
  • Fourth years will be on site for the week beginning Sunday 27 September.

Social distancing measures will be in place as outlined in the ‘General FAQs’ above.

Is the MArch course available via distance learning?

Owing to the highly practical nature of this course, on-site attendance is preferred. However, we have successfully transferred students to distance learning from March this year, and have measures in place to do this again should government guidelines change.