Last updated 10th September 2021

Frequently asked questions about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for students.

We appreciate that this has been a challenging time for many and want to assure you that we will continue to do everything we can to provide support and guidance to the whole student community.  We have set up these Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (for RVC students) to address as many questions as possible in addition to the various sections of our COVID web pages and to  provide you with reassurance that we are working hard to ensure we continue to address your queries and concerns.

Please appreciate that we can only provide the information we have. Some answers require us to work with external stakeholders and we request your patience please.

Please also note that this information is correct at time of publishing. Our aim is to keep it up to date, but as always, check the latest information you have been emailed, or contact the Advice Centre if you have any queries.

Latest 2020-2021 course updates  →

Test, Track and Trace process FAQ for Students, Staff and Line Managers  →

Information for students required to self-isolate  →


2020/21 Safety Net policies in response to continuing pandemic impacts

Agreed Safety Net Policies 2020/21

As a University we need to tread a fine line between acknowledging the additional challenges that students have faced in their studies over the last year and defending the standards of the degrees that we award. In the longer term we need to be confident that a degree awarded in the academic year 2020/2021 is of equal value and credibility to the same degree awarded in any other year.

Earlier this term we asked all our course directors to comment on whether they felt the teaching delivered this year will have given our students the opportunity to achieve the objectives of their courses. Although, for reasons well beyond our control, it was necessary for the method of delivery of our teaching to be changed, our course directors were all confident that despite these changes there has been an opportunity for our students to achieve all of the intellectual objectives of their courses, even if in some cases it has not been possible to experience all of the practical activities that were expected in this last year. Our assessments will focus on those objectives that we know students have had the opportunity to achieve.

We recognise that there have been unique challenges faced by students over the last year. Despite our confidence that you have had the opportunity to achieve your course objectives, we are making three modifications to our assessment regulations this year in recognition of the challenges you have experienced. These will give students better opportunities to demonstrate the standard of which they are capable. These modifications will form the basis of the “safety net” policy that we will employ this year.

The first modification to our assessment is that any summative RVC assessment sat as an examination or submitted for evaluation, that counts towards a student’s final degree classification can be retaken or resubmitted at the next scheduled opportunity by a student who feels the mark they have been awarded has been adversely affected by taking the assessment in the pandemic and is not reflective of their true potential. Students will have a time window during which they will need to indicate that they wish to repeat the assessment. They will also need to submit a statement which outlines how they feel their performance was impaired, why they feel they would otherwise have obtained a higher mark and how a higher mark, if achieved, will affect their final degree classification or eligibility for honours points. This is open to all students, not just those who have failed an assessment. A student can use the higher of the two marks obtained in the calculation of their degree classification.

We anticipate that only a small minority of students will need to take this opportunity, however knowing that it exists will give students greater confidence going into an assessment that, should things go badly wrong, there will be an opportunity to rectify their performance.

Secondly, for those students who do not achieve the required pass threshold in 2020/21 to remain on their course, we are removing the requirement to make a formal appeal before being granted the opportunity to repeat a period of study or assessment and remain on the course. However, students wishing to repeat a period of study or assessment will need to attend a Student Performance and Development meeting to ensure that it is understood what went wrong and how any barriers to academic success in 2020/21 can be overcome via a study plan for repeat studies. It is also important that the wider implications of further repeat study (fees, funding and visa implications for example) are fully understood. Following these discussions, students may determine that further repeat study is not the right option for them and we will support those students to exit the course with the highest award to which they are entitled.

Thirdly, for our students currently in their fourth year of MSci study, their degree classification will be calculated in two ways, including and excluding any summative marks obtained in the academic year 2019/2020. The higher of the two marks will be used to calculate the student’s final degree classification.

We offer a large number of courses at the Royal Veterinary College. The way the above policies are applied will have slightly different implications from course to course. If you have any queries about the above, please check the further information provided in the FAQ below.  If you have any additional queries regarding the application of this policy after reading these, please do contact the Exams Office or your Course Director/Year Leader.

I’m a postgraduate research student – do the above policies apply to me?

These policies do not apply to post graduate research students. We already have systems in place to support postgraduate research students and studies (e.g. MRes, MPhil and PhD) during the pandemic, including mechanisms to extend studies where necessary – please visit the “Research Student” FAQs for further information.

As adjustments to research studies will vary according to your project and stage of studies, these need to be agreed on an individual basis in liaison with your supervisor. It is therefore not possible to provide a “one size fits all” approach to these adjustments, therefore the above 2020/21 Safety Net policies do not apply to research studies.

What happens if I don’t achieve an overall pass for the 2020/21 academic year?

If you do not achieve an overall pass after your first sit in 2020/21, you will be able to re-take assessments at the next available assessment opportunity and your results will not be capped as a consequence of this reassessment. If you do not pass the year at this later assessment opportunity, you will not be able to progress to the next year/stage of studies.

Our existing Assessment and Award Regulations already require students to repeat a year of study if they wish to remain on the programme in certain limited circumstances - typically where studies have not previously been repeated.

Where studies have been repeated previously, our existing Assessment and Award Regulations require students to withdraw from the course unless they formally and successfully appeal that decision. For 2020/21, if you are in this situation, you will not need to formally appeal the Exam Board decision and will have the option to remain on the programme by repeating studies and assessments or, exceptionally, by repeating assessments only in the next academic year. The means of repeat study (i.e. full repeat year of learning and assessment or re-assessment only) will be agreed by the Exam Board.

Although you will not need to make a formal appeal, you will need to attend a Student Performance and Development (SPD) meeting to discuss your 2020/21 academic performance, understand the reasons for underperformance, whether and how these can be overcome in future studies and consider the wider implications of additional study (e.g. additional fees, funding and visa implications). Following these discussions, you may decide that further repeat study is not the right choice for you and we will ensure that you exit the programme with the highest award to which you are entitled. If you do decide to repeat study, you will need to follow the study plan agreed in the SPD meeting and any other conditions set within that meeting.

All assessments for repeat study will be the questions and formats as set for the subsequent academic year in which they are being taken. This may mean for example that exams delivered online in 2020/21 may require physical attendance at the RVC in the future and that learning activities and programme structure may be a revised version.

If students are required to withdraw from the programme for reasons other than academic failure (for example due to proven misconduct or fitness to study or practise concerns) the above regulations do not apply, and these students are unable to repeat study.

I’ve received my results and have passed the year overall but think that my results are worse that they should have been because of the pandemic – what can I do?

It can be disappointing to receive above-threshold results that are lower than you expected. However, it is important that you reflect positively on your achievements, particularly taking into consideration the overall impact that 2020/21 results could have on your final award outcome.

For some students, the impact of 2020/21 results on their final award outcome will be zero as these marks are not used in final award calculation – for further information, please see our Assessment and Award Regulations. If you are in this situation, it is important that you take account of the assessment feedback provided so that you understand how you can improve your performance in the next academic year. If you need further help in understanding this, please do contact your year leader/course director or make an appointment with the Study Skills Team. Please note you will not have the opportunity to repeat assessments to improve on an existing pass mark if these assessment marks are not used in final award calculation (e.g. BSc/MSci Biosciences Year 1) or your award is unclassified and simply Pass/Fail (e.g. MVetMed and PGDip Veterinary Clinical Practice).

If according to our Assessment and Award Regulations, your 2020/21 results will be used to determine your final award classification, you will have the opportunity to repeat assessments at the next available opportunity to try to improve upon an existing pass mark. However, you need to carefully consider if this is the right option for you – you need to balance the extra effort and anxiety inevitably associated with any reassessments against any impact that an improved mark could have on your overall award outcome. In general, results from the earlier years of programmes contribute far less to overall award outcome than later years of the course – for full information for your programme, please see our Assessment and Award Regulations.

To help you with these considerations, if you want to attempt assessments again in an effort to improve an existing pass mark, you will be required to submit a reflective statement that includes:

  1. reflection on reasons for your perceived underperformance
  2. consideration of any barriers to improved performance and if/how they can be overcome prior to re-submission
  3. self-assessment of the level of work associated with any reassessment, including the possible impact on your wellbeing, and performance in future first-sit assessments, and
  4. understanding of how any improved marks may improve overall award outcome
  5. confirmation of which assessments you intend to re-take.

Statement submission is via an online form and will need to be made within 14 calendar days of publication of 2020/21 first attempt results. If your results were published prior to the announcement of these safety net policies, you must provide this submission no later than 2 May 2021. You also need to be aware that the next available assessment opportunity may be in the next academic year – and could therefore conflict with study load in that year.

Please note that Year 3 BSc/FdSc Veterinary Nursing students do not need to submit a reflective statement as the opportunity to re-take assessments to improve on existing pass marks was previously agreed within 2019/20 safety net policies.

All requests to repeat assessments to improve upon an existing pass mark may be refused if insufficient reflection is provided on first submission.

My results are already capped due to academic failure prior to the pandemic – what can I do?

If your results were already capped due to academic failure pre-pandemic (i.e. prior to 2019/20) you will not be able to re-take 2020/21 passed assessments and your results remain capped.

My results are already capped as a result of proven academic misconduct – what can I do?

If your 2020/21 results were already capped as a sanction for proven academic misconduct you will not be able to re-take 2020/21 passed assessments and your results remain capped.

If I do request to re-take assessments already passed, how will this work?

Your re-take will be as per arrangements at the relevant reassessment point. You may therefore need to address a new assignment or exam questions; you may not simply re-working your previous submission.

The only exception to this is for project re-submissions. You will not be able to change your project, or the scope of your project, by requesting to re-take – but you will have the opportunity to refine your project report and/or re-do any associated oral presentation/viva.

Will choosing to re-take passed assessments delay confirmation of my award?

We will make your final award as soon as you meet all requirements for that award. You will therefore be able to enter graduate employment/register with any professional bodies at that point.

If you do re-take assessments which subsequently improve marks (but not your overall award classification) we will update and re-issue your transcript to show these improved marks.

If you do re-take assessments which subsequently improve marks and also your overall award classification, we will rescind your original (lower) award, provide you with confirmation of your new award classification and re-issue your transcript to show these improved marks. If you have already received your degree certificate from the University of London you will need to return this to us before any new certificate can be issued.

I’m in the fourth year of my MSci and am worried that my summative third year results from 2019/20 might affect my overall award this year – what should I do?

You don’t need to do anything! We understand that your summative third year results from 2019/20 may also have been impacted by the pandemic – therefore when calculating your final award, we will use two calculations both including and excluding your third year summative results. Your final award will be the higher of the two weighting calculations below:

  1. Existing formula
    15% second year mark, 35% third year mark and 50% fourth year mark

  2. Formula to exclude 2019/20 summative results
    15% second year mark and 85% fourth year mark

Your fourth year assessments in 2020/21 benefit from the 2020/21 Safety Net policies described above.

I’m in the second year of a BSc – will I have the opportunity to improve my end of year result so that it permits me to transfer to the MSci programme?

Yes – if you have already passed Year 2 but not to the threshold required to transfer to the MSci you will be able to request to re-take assessments to improve your pass mark as described above.


Your health and COVID-19

How do RVC students access Asymptomatic Testing

Where can I find advice and support regarding COVID-19 and the current situation at the RVC?

The RVC is committed to supporting all members of our community and will continue to provide regular updates via the website and the intranet in addition to targeted emails.

We want to reassure you that all of our Learning and Wellbeing services remain open and available to you and remember all these services can be accessed remotely.

We also want to remind you that if you fall ill or if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have a concern about a fellow student, please report this immediately to the Advice Centre.

Please take care and remember we’re only a call or email away.

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 you should also visit NHS 111 coronavirus advice and follow the medical advice provided there.

What should I do if I fall ill?

If you are a member of staff or a student and you, or someone you have been in contact with, develops symptoms of COVID-19 you will need to follow the RVC Track and Trace process.

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 you should also visit NHS 111 COVID-19 Online Service and follow the advice provided there.

For further guidance on how to self-isolate in education settings see Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on isolation for residential educational settings

Remember we have well established processes to support students when they become unwell, for any reason, during their course and during assessment. These will continue to be applied in the case of students who have COVID-19 related issues and have reported these to the Advice Centre at the time they first occur.

Covid-19 Risk Assessment - October 2020

To ensure the continued safety of staff and students and in accordance with Government advice on the 5 steps to working safely, the RVC has carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment. The assessment is in line with HSE guidance and has been completed following consultation with employees and trade unions. It has been shared with staff and students and will be updated when there are further changes in government advice.

Do I have to wear a face mask at the RVC?


Tuition fees

Will there be any change to tuition fees for 2020/21?

The College recognises that international students have faced a range of difficulties in arranging accommodation, re-booking flights etc. and as a result has frozen fees for the 2020-21 academic year at 2019-20 levels, being a 3% reduction on the previously published fee for international students.

Following the change in the mode of delivery and having made key adaptations to curricular scheduling, the RVC remains committed to delivering to its learning objectives and, in the case of professional degrees, the Day One Competencies and Skills (D1C&S) as required by the accreditation bodies.

In common with the rest of the sector in both the UK, USA and Australasia, the RVC’s position is that provided the learning objectives and D1C&S are delivered in such a fashion that the students can graduate in line with current schedules, no tuition fee reduction is warranted.

  1. The RVC is committed to supporting all its students in their learning needs at all times, including during the COVID-19 pandemic and the concomitant societal restrictions.
  2. Our commitment is to provide our students with the necessary learning opportunities so that they can achieve the course outcomes and, in the case of those studying toward registrable degrees with professional bodies, the requisite Day One Competencies and Skills.
  3. The RVC understands that students may have legitimate concerns with regard to their ability to access suitable learning provision during the COVID-19 pandemic and both the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, and the Office for Students have been clear that universities must continue to enable students to achieve the learning outcomes by adopting a range of different teaching techniques.
  4. Universities UK have issued a statement which says that where there is wide-ranging support for active and ongoing learning and progression, and where students can achieve the required learning outcomes for their course of study, individuals should not expect any tuition fee refund from their university. This echoes the FAQs published from the Minister Donelan, on 9 April 2020.
  5. The RVC’s position, in line with the rest of the sector both in the UK and the USA, is that where it continues to deliver the learning opportunities that will lead to a student’s scheduled graduation, the full tuition fee is still payable.
  6. The Office for Students requires us where necessary to find alternative means of providing the teaching and learning opportunities that will lead to successful graduation.
  7. This experience is expected to meet accreditor requirements and, in that regard, will be equivalent but not identical to that originally advertised.
  8. For most, this is transforming the learning interactions into online modalities which will include Lecture Capture, Personal Capture, digitally enabled interactions, tutoring, webinars, fora and video conferencing. For further information is available here: online learning FAQ.
  9. For some, this also means a re-scheduling of teaching so that activity that can be managed remotely (e.g., research projects) is delivered ahead of schedule, thus enabling more intensive face-to-face activity to occur in the 2020/21 academic year.
  10. To assure the quality of this alternative means of teaching and learning opportunities, we continue to follow guidance from the Quality Assurance Agency.
  11. Assessment, whether formative or summative, continues to be subject to, and  benefit from, appropriate quality assurance processes, including standard setting, internal moderation and scrutiny by external examiners to ensure that work and assessment of student attainment meets national degree standards and, where applicable, professional body requirements.
  12. In addition to learning opportunities, the RVC will continue to provide students with advice and specialist services to support studies and wellbeing. This has been enhanced with extended Advice Centre hours, additional support for those still in their student accommodation, and increased hardship funding to support those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
  13. Should external factors prevent or delay the delivery of the necessary educational standards preventing achievement of learning outcomes, or where appropriate Day One Competencies and Skills, such that completion and scheduled graduations are delayed, no additional tuition fee will be payable.

This has been shared with the RVC Students’ Union.


Teaching

What is Blended Learning? and other FAQs

Get answers to your questions about Blended Learning at the RVC →

Please follow the link above to find answers to questions about the IT setup; Learning plans and the timetable; how to watch video recordings; how to plan your learning and much more.

Can I take a break in/interrupt my studies in 2020/21?

Find out about Blended Learning at the RVC →

We recognise that students may wish to interrupt (take a break in) their studies for a variety of reasons. All interruptions must be approved by the RVC and approval is typically given due to exceptional personal circumstances only.

It is important that you are advised of and consider all implications of taking a break in studies. This is particularly true if considering an interruption in 2020/21 as course structures for this academic year have been varied to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions and will not necessarily be repeated for subsequent academic years. By interrupting studies now, you will be extending the length of time it takes to complete your course, graduate and enter the workforce or further study. Additionally, interrupting studies may incur additional tuition fees and will certainly incur living costs above those originally anticipated and budgeted for.

If you are considering interrupting your studies you should therefore discuss this with an appropriate academic member of staff in the first instance so that you are aware of the academic implications of taking a break from studies this year:

Course type Email request to
Research students See PGR FAQ
Interns/Residents Your supervisor
All other taught programmes Year Leader (courses leading to BVetMed award)
Course Director (all other taught courses)


After you have discussed the academic implications with your academic advisor (see above), if you still wish to interrupt your studies in 2020/21 they will refer you to the Advice Centre team who will investigate the wider impact that any interruption will have – for example on your RVC accommodation, funding entitlements and other implications as appropriate to your personal circumstances (e.g. student visa sponsorship by RVC). The Advice Centre team will advise you of all associated implications so that you can then make a final and informed decision as to whether to take a break from your studies – and assist with completing necessary forms to effect your interruption if this is the decision you take.

Please also note that for some accredited courses, there are specified time limits for study as set by professional bodies – for further information, please see our General Regulations for Study and Award.


Assessment and exams

What should I do if I fall ill and am unable to complete formative or summative assessments or meet assignment deadlines?

If you do fall ill, you must self-declare by contacting the Advice Centre to let them know of your condition.

In addition, if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 you should also visit NHS 111 COVID-19 Online Service

  • Assignments
    Students unable to meet the deadline for medical reasons or unforeseeable, unmanageable or uncontrollable personal circumstances should seek an extension to the deadline from the year or course leader with accompanying medical or other independent evidence. All those with COVID-19 symptoms should be tested using NHS services; you may be asked to provide a copy of these details and the subsequent NHS advice to support your extension. Please also report your medical status to the Advice Centre as we will then be able to implement our Track and Trace procedures as well as advise on the implications for your studies and refer to the relevant teams to support your continued learning and assessment wherever practicable once you are well; your priority must be your health and recovery.
  • Exams/Online Assessments
    A candidate unable to sit these as a result of illness or other unavoidable cause, should present independent evidence to the relevant progress committee and seek a deferral of the sitting. Deferrals may only be granted prior to the examination. All those with COVID-19 symptoms should be tested using NHS services; you may be asked to provide a copy of these details and the subsequent NHS advice to support your extension. Please also report your medical status to the Advice Centre as we will then be able to implement our Track and Trace procedures as well as advise on the implications for your studies and refer to the relevant teams to support your continued learning and assessment wherever practicable once you are well; your priority must be your health and recovery.

I was planning to take NAVLE in April what should I do?

The latest information from the International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA) can be found on the NAVLE website - www.icva.net/news-and-updates. Prometric testing centres are open but subject to local restrictions. Latest information on can be found on the prometric website www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update.

  • The testing windows are as follows:
    • September 1 - December 31, 2020
    • April 12 - 24, 2021

For queries or support with NAVLE contact studyskills@rvc.ac.uk

Can I defer my assessments?

If you are prevented from taking either a formative or a summative assessment in 2019/20, you can delay taking the assessment until it is next offered. If you wish to defer an assessment, you must contact the Advice Centre in the first instance to let them know that you want to delay your assessment and the reasons why. The Advice Centre will then liaise with wider teams and staff as appropriate so that your deferral is considered and if approved, recorded so that arrangements can be made for you to take the assessment at the next opportunity.

Deferring an assessment will not change your tuition fee as the assessment will be taken at a later point. Deferring a first attempt at an assessment effectively moves your first attempt to the delayed date; as a first attempt the mark awarded will not be capped. If you had already attempted the assessment and are already on a re-sit opportunity, your mark normally remains capped.

How do I get ready to take a proctored online exam? What support is available?

We recommend you to start preparing early for your proctored exam so you can ensure that any issues are worked out prior to your assessment.

This 5 step checklist should get you started:  

  1. Download the Proctorio extension for GoogleChrome to your computer Proctorio should be able to assist you with any set-up issues and we recommend you contact them directly. https://proctorio.com/support  or email support@proctorio.com. If you continue to experience difficulties then please contact exams@rvc.ac.uk  or learn@rvc.ac.uk 
      
  2. Get familiar using the software in advance of your summative assessment – A test site is available in the Study Skills area for you to use once you’ve downloaded and setup the Proctorio extension on the computer, and prior to your formative opportunity. All of the guidance documents on using the proctoring software (Proctorio) are available in this area and the LEARN team can provide further advice and support around any technical queries or issues 

  3. Consider how to adjust your exam taking strategies for online exams -  taking exams online is going to be different and you may need to adjust your strategies. Contact the Study Skills team who can help you do this.  

  4. Read through your exam instructions carefully from the Exams Office – The Exams Office will email out detailed step by step instructions ahead of your online exams. These instructions will include the appropriate LEARN links as to where you will find the exams, specific timings as well as any other information you need to complete the exam. You will also be informed who to contact should you encounter any problems during your online exams. Please ensure you read these instructions in full prior to your exams. Should you have any queries please contact your Examinations Officer who will be able to assist you. Proctorio Guidance - https://learn.rvc.ac.uk/mod/book/view.php?id=81225    

  5. If you have Special Examination Arrangements in place these will remain. We will provide additional information to those students directly but invite students to contact us at disability@rvc.ac.uk if they have any additional questions or queries about their examination arrangements.

How does Proctorio work and why is it being used?

Following clarification around assessment requirements and additional guidance provided to the RVC by our professional accrediting bodies the RVC have implemented the use of proctored exams using Proctorio. Proctorio works through a Google Chrome extension installed onto the user’s computer and a Proctorio tool that is added to specific exam courses within RVC LEARN. It is only when the chrome extension and the LEARN tool are used together (within an RVC LEARN exam) that the proctoring functionality is activated to create and maintain the exam environment. The Proctorio extension cannot and does not work outside of the RVC LEARN exam course as the Chrome extension is only activated when in the presence of the Proctorio tool which is applied to specific exams within RVC LEARN. The proctoring software becomes active when you enter the exam and undertake the required checks and deactivates itself once you have submitted your exam. During normal computer usage the Chrome extension remains dormant.

How does Proctorio create conditions that replicate an exam environment?

To create the exam environment Proctorio asks you to perform certain checks these include testing your microphone, camera, internet speed and external devices that are plugged into your computer. Information from the microphone and camera are captured by the software to eliminate suspicion of cheating whilst information about the internet connection and speed are used to monitor connection performance, these can be referred to should you be disconnected during the exam. Proctorio will also look to detect any external devices connected to your computer (these could include an external hard-drive, second screen or external speakers) you will be asked to disconnect these.

What can I have on the desk, during an exam?

Apart from your RVC ID card and appropriate IT set up (PC/laptop, microphone and webcam) you do not need anything else. You are not permitted to have anything on your desk / around your computer that could be considered as suspicious or inappropriate. Items such as mobile phones, calculators, text books, course notes, etc are not permitted unless indicated by the Exams Office.

You are permitted, if required, to have blank paper on your desk for taking short notes. In addition, you are able to have a drink, some food, tissues, etc within reach. At the start of the exam you will be asked to scan the room (see below) and should ensure you show the blank paper during the room scan. You also need to ensure you leave sufficient time to show the notes you have written fully to the camera prior to your exam session ending.  

You should try and have as little as possible around you when you are taking your exam in order to avoid this being flagged as suspicious when your recording is reviewed.  There is no ability to highlight questions in a different colour but there is the ability to ‘flag’ a question should you wish to carry on your exam and return to that question at a later stage.   The Study Skills team can help you with an exam strategy using the in-quiz whiteboard and ‘flag’ tools.

Do I need my ID in order to take my exam?

You will be required to show your RVC ID card to the camera at the start of your exam and this will be recorded. If for some reason you do not have your RVC ID card, please use any official identification that has your photograph and your full name (e.g. a driving licence, passport) and ensure it can be seen properly when you are asked to present it to the camera.

How do I complete the room scan at the start of the exam?

At the start of the exam you will be prompted to ‘scan the room’. You should move your camera around to show as much of your environment as possible, including the area immediately around where you are sitting (your ‘desk’). This is in order for us to ensure you are not sitting with others in the room or have any materials / devices that you could consult during your exam. The room scan helps the person reviewing your recording as it means they will be aware of what is around you and can make a better judgement on suspicious activity that is flagged by the system.

Will the time for scanning the room be deducted from my exam time?

In the set-up phase of a proctored exam, you are required to “scan your room” during this process if you intend to use paper for note taking please show the paper to the camera at this time. As this is within the set-up phase of your exam this does not deduct from your exam time.

Can I eat/drink during my exam?

You can have a drink and some food if desired on your desk. No additional items, calculators, notebooks, or mobile phones should be within reach while you are taking your proctored exam.

Can I use more than one screen?

No, you should only have one screen connected at any time. Having more than one screen will result in you not passing the initial verification process, and you will be asked to disconnect your second screen.

Can I navigate away from the screen during the exam?

No, you should remain within the exam browser until you have submitted your exam. Please remember you are being recorded (via your webcam, microphone and screen) and navigating away from the proctored exam will be flagged as suspicious behaviour.

Can I take my exam on a tablet?

No. You can only take a proctored exam on a laptop or desktop PC and need to have Google Chrome as well as the additional ‘Proctorio’ extension installed.

Can I take my exams on a Mac?

Yes, you will need to install Google Chrome and the Proctorio plug-in in advance of your exam. Further, you will need to make Chrome your default browser. Also, there may be a need to allow Google Chrome ‘permission’ to share screen prior to staring the verification process.

If you need help in setting this up please contact Proctorio  https://proctorio.com/support   or email support@proctorio.com.  If your query cannot be resolved with Proctorio please contact the LEARN Team prior to your formative opportunity

Can I wear ear plugs, noise cancelling headphones, etc?

Should you need to wear something like this to ensure a quiet exam environment then you must demonstrate that they are standalone items and do not have the ability to connect to anything. You are also advised to inform the Exams Office prior to your exam and confirm they are not able to connect to anything. This could hinder the reviewing process if you do not let us know beforehand.

Can I use other applications on my computer during the exam, such as Word, Excel, Google, etc?

No you cannot use anything outside of the proctored exam area. Attempting to use any other applications or software will be considered as a suspicious action and will be flagged for further investigation. You are advised to make use of the ‘in quiz’ tools of the calculator and whiteboard.

Can I use scrap paper/make notes/highlight questions during the examinations?

Students are able to make use of the ‘in quiz’ whiteboard which will allow you to write notes online during your proctored exam. The whiteboard can be moved around your screen and also minimised to ensure it does not obscure the question you are answering. As the whiteboard is within the exam, any activity (notes drawings, etc) will be recorded as part of your screen recording but it will not be marked.  

Should students feel that using the whiteboard is difficult, you are permitted to have blank paper on your desk for the purpose of writing short notes. At the start of the exam you will be asked to scan the room and should ensure you show the blank paper during the room scan (see above). You also need to ensure you leave sufficient time to show the notes you have written fully to the camera prior to your exam session ending.  

There is no ability to highlight questions in a different colour but there is the ability to ‘flag’ a question should you wish to carry on your exam and return to that question at a later stage. The Study Skills team can help you with an exam strategy using the in-quiz whiteboard and ‘flag’ tools.  

If you are a student with a long-term health condition or disability, including a diagnosed learning difference such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, please contact the Disability Adviser to discuss any special exam arrangements that may be needed. Email: disability@rvc.ac.uk 

Can I use a graphics pad to make notes on the whiteboard?

No, you are able to use a mouse to make sketches/diagrams and type notes/text using the keyboard. Connecting a ‘graphics pad’ may cause issues with the proctoring software.

Can I take the exam with people in the room?

No as this will be flagged as ‘suspicious’. You should take the exam in a room, or area, where it is quiet, you are alone and will not be disturbed by others.

What should I do if my internet connectivity is poor?

Please test you internet speed at https://www.speedtest.net . If your upload speed is below Proctorio’s minimum required threshold of 0.092 – 0.244 Mbps, *please take this up with your internet service provider well in advance of your proctored exam.   *please take a screenshot and send this to exams@rvc.ac.uk who will be able to advise further. 

I do not have access to a computer. Is there any support available?

If your current laptop is out of date and you are considering purchasing a new device please look at the Blended Learning FAQs to review the recommended requirements. There are a limited number of discounted, high spec laptops available for students to purchase from the library. You can either visit the library or log a call on the Service Desk Portal using the general Library form. If you still have an issue with your equipment please contact exams@rvc.ac.uk  who will be able to advise further about the possibility of accessing computer equipment on campus.

I don’t have a camera for my computer, what should I do?

The IT helpdesk have a limited number of web cameras for loan during the period of the assessment, to enquire please log a call on the Service Desk Portal using the IT Helpdesk general enquiry form. 

My home environment is not suitable for sitting exams, what can I do?

You should make an initial appointment with the Advice Centre to discuss your concerns and see how this could be managed.  

Can I use a calculator during my exam?

 Students are able to make use of the ‘in quiz’ scientific calculator during a proctored exam, which you can find within the floating tool bar on the quiz screen. The calculator can be moved around your screen and also minimised to ensure it does not obscure the question you are answering. As the calculator is within the exam, any activity will be recorded as part of your screen recording but it will not be marked.

Should students encounter difficulties accessing or using the ‘in quiz’ calculator during their proctored exam, you are permitted to use a physical calculator outside of the proctored exam environment. The calculator must not be on a mobile phone or tablet, simply a standalone calculator.

At the start of the exam you will be asked to scan the room and should ensure you show the calculator during the room scan (see above).

The Study Skills team can help you with an exam strategy taking exams online.

What if I am disrupted during my exam? E.g. doorbell, phone etc.

Once your exam starts you should not leave the viewing area of your webcam for any reason (unless it is an emergency). Should something occur, such as a doorbell or phone ringing, as long as your actions do not look suspicious this will not be a problem (don’t answer or cancel the phone call or leave to answer the door). When your recording is reviewed the reviewer will be able to distinguish between things you have little or no control over and things you should not actually do. If ‘something’ happens then either do not interact with it or shut it down straightaway. For instance, if someone comes in your room and starts talking, simply say you are taking an exam and ask them to leave.

Preparing for your exam:

  • Check your laptop / computer is fully updated and charged or plugged in
  • Make sure you have created a suitable exam space
  • Clear away all learning materials, or anything that may look suspicious when your recording is reviewed
  • Turn off devices (phone, tablet etc) and put them in a drawer or bag, completely out of reach and view
  • Let members of your household know that you are taking an exam, to ensure you are not disturbed.
  • Close doors to the room you are in, if possible, and maybe place a sign, making others aware you are taking an exam

What happens if my internet fails during an exam? Who should I contact?

You will be given full instructions ahead of your exams about how to access support if you should need it. Students can re-enter the exam and continue their attempt if they have not submitted their answers and there still time left, although you will be required to go through the verification process again.

Should you lose connection for a long period of time please contact the Exams Office and we will endeavour to help resolve your issue if at all possible. If your internet connection resumes we should be able to increase your exam length in order for you to recommence your exam without losing out on any time. This is dependent on timings of other parts of your exam that may be held on that day.

Can I change the background colour/colour of the text?

You can change the font size and background colour on LEARN by using the accessibility toolbar. The accessibility toolbar is located on the left-hand side of all pages on LEARN and is available during proctored exams.

Can I move back and forth between questions?

Yes, you can move between questions as you wish by either clicking the ‘previous’ or ‘next’ buttons below the question or by using the question grid in the top left of the page to jump between different questions. In addition, you are able to flag questions in order to come back to them later and this will also be signified in the question grid in the top left of the page. 

I usually look away from my computer screen when thinking, will the exam software interpret this as potential cheating?

Remember: Nobody is watching you take your exam in real time – the system produces a recording (of the screen, video and audio) and then analyses it for “suspicious activity”. It will flag each of these activities which will then be reviewed by a member of the Exams Office, and investigated further if deemed necessary.

Examples:        

  • Reading a question out loud to yourself is fine but talking or discussing questions with someone else in the room is not.
  • Looking around/away from your computer whilst thinking about an answer is fine but staring away from the screen continuously is not. 
  • Getting up to stretch but remaining in view of the webcam and microphone is fine, leaving the view of the webcam is not.

Should students feel their approved special exam arrangement is not fully compatible with being proctored and not being able to leave the webcam viewing area, you should contact the Disability Adviser.

Will someone be watching me whilst I am taking the exam/I am not comfortable with someone having “live” access whilst I am sitting the exam?

No, nobody is watching you take the exam in real time – your webcam, microphone and screen are constantly being recorded to provide a record of your exam sitting. Any decision to investigate a student’s actions further will be made by a human being and not by the software itself.

Proctorio uses automated recording software and AI algorithms to record the person taking the exam and indicate events/flags that should be reviewed. At no point during your exam is anyone “behind the camera” watching you. Event/flags will only be reviewed by a member of the Exams Office after the completion of the exam. If you experience issues or problems either in the set-up or during your proctored exam, Proctorio provide a 24/7 support service https://proctorio.com/support or email support@proctorio.com. If you are unhappy with this support, please contact exams@rvc.ac.uk.

How does the Proctorio extension work on my computer?

In order to ensure that all exams are taken fairly Proctorio utilises a number of browser permissions, including:

  • read and change all data on the websites you visit – used to limit (or prevent) access to websites
  • display notifications – prevent notifications being used as a method to obtain prompts and information
  • modify data you copy and paste; - used to limit or prevent the ability to copy and paste content from the exam or an external source
  • capture content of your screen – to enable screen capture used to ensure exam integrity and to provide in exam support as required
  • manage your downloads – used to limit or prevent the download of content during an exam 
  • identify and eject storage devices – used to ensure exam takers cannot access other sources of information.
  • Also used to sense the presence of a second screen.
  • manage your apps, extensions and themes – used to prevent access to other programmes for the exam duration 
  • change your privacy-related settings – used to enable these changes at the start of the exam and then to release these permissions and restrictions once the exam has been submitted.  

All of these permissions are used by the proctoring software and the exams office to tailor the exam experience and provide a flexible but secure environment in which to take your exam. As soon as you’ve finished the exam, you can uninstall Proctorio if you wish to give you ease of mind. Just reinstall the browser extension before your next online exam.

Who will be reviewing my recordings and what will happen to the data that is recorded?

Proctorio recordings will initially be reviewed by staff within the Exams Office. Should there be a need for further investigation of suspicious activity then additional and appropriate RVC staff may also be required to view the recordings. The company that provides the proctoring software, Proctorio, states on their website: “Proctorio, also, runs as a browser extension. This means there is no native software, with full access to your computer system. Proctorio only runs during your exam. As soon as you’ve finished the exam, you can uninstall Proctorio to give you ease of mind. Just reinstall the browser extension before your next online exam”. You can view Proctorio’s privacy statement as follows: https://proctorio.com/about/privacy

What data does Proctorio collect and how is it managed?

The data collected by Proctorio can include:

Name as recorded in RVC LEARN and email address - used to tie the exam attempt and grades to the correct student record within RVC LEARN
Photos of you and your RVC ID – used to confirm identity so that we can confirm the correct person is sitting the exam. 
IP address and IT performance – used to monitor your IT performance and internet speed. Any drops in performance are recorded and can be referred to should a technical issue cause you to drop out of the exam. 

In accordance with Proctorio’s data security policy this data is retained for “only as long as required by the institution”. As such this data and the exam recordings will be retained until they have been reviewed and approved by the Exams Office. If exam irregularity is suspected, it may be necessary to keep the data and recordings longer to allow further investigations and review to take place.     

What data is shared between RVC and Proctorio?

To ensure Proctorio works correctly RVC LEARN shares some data with Proctorio this data is limited to your name as recorded in RVC LEARN and your RVC email address. All data collected by Proctorio is securely stored in UK based data centres in line with GDPR requirements. Members of Proctorio staff do not and will not access any recordings unless requested to do so by RVC colleagues and this would be limited to technical issue resolution only. The duration data is retained is also dictated by the RVC. If there are no events/flag requiring further investigation the recording and data can be deleted following review. If however, there are events/flags that require further scrutiny the recording will need to be kept until the conclusion of this process in order that it can be used in the event any appeals against decisions taken.

I installed Proctorio and I notice that my computer is overheating?

It is very unlikely that, during normal running of your computer, any tendency to overheat will be caused by Proctorio. As outlined above Proctorio is not able to run or “spy on you” in the background due to the way the extension and LEARN tool need to work together. As we approach the exam period you will all be compiling, consolidating and reviewing course materials – this takes considerable memory and processing power which then places a burden on your battery. Additionally, there are a number of factors that could contribute to battery overheating including poor air flow around the laptop and keeping the laptop continually on charge (opposed to allowing the battery to go through charge and discharge cycles – similar to the way we use mobile phones). The link below provides some other useful tips on how to improve your laptop battery life.

https://uk.pcmag.com/laptops/116734/how-to-increase-your-laptop-battery-life

How will the system know if I am cheating/what will flag up as suspicious activity?

The software notices behaviours and movement and records these but does not to make decisions, that is left to the reviewer of the recording. We do not expect you to remain completely still/quiet during an exam but, if possible, please avoid excessive movement. The system flags up “events” based on pre-set parameters, for example, an increase in audio levels, significant head or eye movement. The software may also flag any unusual event in the recording for a staff member to view. This is purely an indicator used to aid those reviewing your recording. Any decision to investigate a student’s actions further will be made by a human being and not by the software itself.

I have Special Examination Arrangements (SEA) in place already, will these continue to be in place?

Yes. Students who are in receipt of an additional time allowance will have this included in the length of their proctored exam. Students with a rest break allocation (5 mins per hour, 10 mins per hour, as and when required, etc) will have this time added onto exam time as they would for ‘in person’ exams. Please be aware that students are unable to leave the viewing area of their webcam to take their rest break but getting up and stretching is allowed. Should students feel their approved special exam arrangement is not fully compatible with being proctored and not leaving the webcam viewing area, you should contact the Disability Adviser. The Study Skills team can help you with an exam strategy taking exams online.

My Special Examination Arrangements include rest breaks / I have a condition that means I may have to use the toilet more often or have difficulty with sitting for long periods. How will these needs be accommodated?

Students with a rest break allocation (5 mins per hour, 10 mins per hour, as and when required, etc) will have this time added onto exam time as they would for ‘in person’ exams. Please be aware that students are unable to leave the viewing area of their webcam to take their rest break but getting up and stretching is allowed. Should students feel their approved special exam arrangement is not fully compatible with being proctored and not leaving the webcam viewing area, you should contact the Disability Adviser.

Where can I find the Proctorio guides and test site?

These can be accessed in the Study Skills/Assessment/Proctored assessment area here

Is Proctorio able to 'steal' any of my data in the background during my assessment?

No. During your assessment Proctorio is only concerned with creating, maintaining and monitoring the exam environment. Once the exam is submitted the Proctorio extension returns to its inactive state.

Is Proctorio storing my browser history?

No. At the RVC we only use two of the available Proctorio settings – “allow a specific URL”, this will allow you to visit a designated URL during your exam this may be to allow you to access another area within RVC LEARN for example, to download an open book exam question paper. We also use “restrict web traffic”, preventing you from accessing any other sites during your exam. Proctorio only monitors your activity for the duration of your exam to confirm that you have accessed the correct site (if allowed) and have not accessed any other sites.

Will Proctorio affect my laptop's performance?

No, but in order for Proctorio to work best it is suggested that you restart your laptop prior to an exam in order to free up as much RAM as possible additionally, you are also advised to close programmes that may be running in the background or on start up. This will ensure a smooth exam experience. Similarly, after the exam it may be prudent to also do another restart so that your RAM is refreshed for your other work.

Many of the issues experienced relate to available RAM and or available disk drive space as reaching the limit in either of these areas causes a laptop to slow down and struggle to open programmes. It is advisable to monitor this and as necessary use an external hard drive or cloud-based storage solution to store files.

How has been Proctorio been used at the RVC?

As of the end of this week it has been used for:

  • 5151 exam hours
  • Across 10 programmes
  • <10% (less than 10%) of students require support from the exams office or LEARN helpdesk. The majority of cases stem from set-up issues that are easily resolved and confirmed using the Proctorio practice exam

How does RVC handle data breaches?

Data Breaches:

Data Breaches are handled on a case by case basis.  The first action is always to try to contain the breach, notify affected parties and minimise risk to individuals whilst also ensuring that action is taken to ensure the breach has been closed and cannot happen again.

A data breach report (based on the Information Commissioners Office[ICO] reporting template) is provided to the Data Protection Officer as soon as is feasible following the breach being discovered.  From that point we have 72 hours to assess whether or not the scale and significance of the breach requires a formal report the ICO and we do see advice from them if it is a marginal case or we are unsure.

Although we will continue to take the actions we see fit to manage the breach we would then also expect the ICO to investigate and comment on our controls. Approach and relative liabilities.  The ICO can issue public notices with which we must comply and fines.

Responsibility

As Data Controller we will be held responsible in the first instance for any data breaches though the ICO may also take action against sub-contractors if appropriate as may we.  The RVC does have appropriate contractual controls in place with Proctorio and both parties have insurance in place.


Placements and work experience

AHEMS

For students set to graduate in 2024 and 2025. Please visit the RCVS Extra-mural studies website for the current AHEMS requirements.

For new entry students set to graduate in 2026 (BVetMed1) and 2027 (Gateway), the RCVS has yet to release the requirements for your years. Once this information is released it will be emailed to students and published on this page and on learn.

Please refer to your years respective AHEMS learn page for more information.

EMS

For the current EMS requirements for your Year please visit the RCVS Website https://www.rcvs.org.uk/lifelong-learning/students/veterinary-students/extra-mural-studies-ems/

For full details on EMS placements please check the EMS pages on Learn.

BVetMed Clinical EMS on LEARN  →

Rotations

BVetMed 5 (Graduating Class of 2021)

Core rotations resumed in September 2020 with a number of modification to allow meeting of learning objectives yet providing a safe environment for learning. Some tracking rotations were incorporated into core rotations and many tracking rotations were offered as in-house EMS placements. The remote online rotation teaching resources (eg, recorded seminars, quizzes) will remain available to all and can continue to complement learning on rotations. Information relating to how rotations are operating can be found in the 2020-21 Rotations Information page on LEARN.

BVetMed 4 (Graduating Class of 2022)

Core and Tracking rotations will commence on the 26th April 2021. Remote online rotation teaching resources (eg, recorded seminars, quizzes) created during period of disruption to rotations have been made available to all students and can be used to help prepare for and complement learning on rotations. Information relating to how rotations are operating can be found in the 2021-22 Rotations Information page on LEARN.


Degree award classifications

How will my award classification be determined in 2019/2

Please read the general practice and principles in conjunction with the course-specific information below.

General practice and principles to ensure fairness and award standards for taught programme awards

We have taken note of good practice in the sector, guidance from the Quality Assurance Agency and sought the views of our external examiners to ensure that modified classification methodologies for taught programmes maintain the standards of our awards whilst recognising that most graduating classes this year have experienced swift, but necessary, modifications to learning and assessment this academic year. In determining temporary revised methods for calculating 2019/20 award classifications, we have adopted the following practice and principles:

  1. Examination of impact of COVID-19 on 2019/20 cohort assessments.
  2. Examination of past cohort performance to identify indicators of student attainment at final award.
  3. Examination of past cohort performance to identify typical percentage of cohort achieving award classifications.
  4. Adopting a policy of “no detriment” by applying more than one methodology where above data indicates that a single methodology is unreliable, awarding the student the more advantageous classification if the methodologies produce different outcomes.
  5. This is in addition to the “no detriment” policy applied for individual assessments where students are not capped on the first re-sit of assessments modified due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  6. As ever, students who wish to dispute their final award have the option to do so by following the procedures outlined in our Appeals and Representation policy and Student Complaints and Resolution Procedure (depending on nature of dispute) once their result has been published.

Full detail for your award is now available by course below. We will be making corresponding amendments to the Assessment and Award regulations for 2019/20 for your individual programme and will let you know when these have been published.

How and when will I receive my degree certificate?

Degree certificates are issued by the University of London. This is typically three to six months after your award has been confirmed. Please check and update your home address on RoVer to facilitate delivery. In the interim, the RVC can provide you with a letter confirming your award. 
How you obtain this letter is dependent on why you need it.

  • If you simply want award confirmation for your own records, please log in to RoVer and download a copy from the “Student Results” section.
  • If you need your award confirmation to be emailed or posted to a third party by RVC, please email studentrecords@rvc.ac.uk from your RVC email account to let us know.  

BVetMed

For the 2019/20 graduating class we will calculate honours points in two ways – and award honours if you meet either requirement:

  1. Calculation excluding Finals Part II – we will reduce the number of honours points available to you according to whether you are a BVetMed or graduate entrant by 16 points (those awarded to Finals Part II) and calculate the percentage of honours points that you have achieved. The top 10% of this honours percentage will be students eligible for the award of honours.
  2. Calculation including Finals Part II – we will calculate honours points using the existing formula. All students who qualify under existing honour points formula will be eligible for the award of honours.

We appreciate that this may appear to contradict an earlier message to final year students where we agreed that we would not use the modified Finals Part II to award honours. However, when we applied method 1) above to previous cohorts, it became clear that a not-insignificant number of students who were awarded honours would be excluded from receiving honours in 2019/20 if this method alone were applied. This is because the existing formula takes account of exit velocity - ie: the recognition that the final stages of capstone examination are where we can reasonably expect students to best demonstrate their attainment levels. We therefore agreed to operate both methods for each student and award honours should they qualify under either method. Therefore, inclusion of Finals Part II results alone may provide you with honours in 2019/20 – but their use alone will not preclude you from achieving honours.

BSc Bioscience

For BSc, we will calculate your award classification using the existing formula including assessments modified due to COVID-19. However, your final classification will be no lower than that achieved for Year 2. This will ensure that you will not be penalised for poor performance in 2019/20 that may be due to COVID-19 related modifications.

BSc Comparative Pathology

BSc Comparative Pathology is currently awarded based on Year 3/Level 6 marks only. All assessments apart from the project were completed in January 2020. We will be accounting for COVID-19 project changes when marking the project. There is therefore no change to current BSc Comparative Pathology classification method.

MSci Bioscience

MSci Year 4, 2019/20 assessments have not been majorly impacted apart from completion of the project. We will be accounting for COVID-19 project changes when marking the project. There is therefore no change to current MSci classification method.

FdSc Veterinary Nursing

We will calculate your award classification using the existing formula including assessments modified due to COVID-19 but will not award any classification that is below that gained for Year 2 of study. This will ensure that you will not be penalised for poor performance in 2019/20 that may be due to COVID-19 related modifications.

BSc Veterinary Nursing

We will calculate your award classification using the existing formula including assessments modified due to COVID-19 but will not award any classification that is below that gained for your Year 2 and Year 3 combined classification. This will ensure that you will not be penalised for poor performance in 2019/20 that may be due to COVID-19 related modifications.

If you transferred to the BSc in the final year (ie: from FdSc or equivalent) we will calculate your award classification using the existing formula including assessments modified due to COVID-19 but will not award any classification that is below that indicated by your overall percentage score for the FdSc. This will ensure that you will not be penalised for poor performance in 2019/20 that may be due to COVID-19 related modifications.

Graduate Diploma in Professional and Clinical Veterinary Nursing

We will calculate your award classification using the existing formula including assessments modified due to COVID-19 but will not award any classification that is below that gained for Stage 1. This will ensure that you will not be penalised for poor performance in 2019/20 that may be due to COVID-19 related modifications.

Graduate Diploma Equine Locomotor Research

2019/20 assessments have not been impacted apart from completion of the project. We will be accounting for COVID-19 project changes when marking the project. Award classifications will therefore be awarded using the existing award classification formula.

MSc Intensive Livestock Health and Production

2019/20 assessments have not been impacted apart from completion of the project. We will be accounting for COVID-19 project changes when marking the project. Award classifications will therefore be awarded using the existing award classification formula.

MSc One Health

2019/20 assessments have not been impacted apart from completion of the project. We will be accounting for COVID-19 project changes when marking the project. Award classifications will therefore be awarded using the existing award classification formula.

MSc Veterinary Education

2019/20 assessments have not been impacted apart from completion of the project. We will be accounting for COVID-19 project changes when marking the project. Award classifications will therefore be awarded using the existing award classification formula.

MSc Wild Animal Biology

We will calculate classifications in two ways – and award you whichever method provides the highest classification:

  1. Calculate your final result in the usual way and including assessments modified due to COVID-19. Student results will be ranked and students awarded classifications based upon the historical bandings below.
  2. Calculate your final result based on the existing formula but excluding assessments modified due to COVID-19. Student results will be ranked and students awarded classifications based upon the historical bandings below

Classification bandings:

  • Distinction: Top 15%
  • Merit: Next 30%
  • Pass: Next 55%

This will ensure that you will not be penalised for poor performance in 2019/20 that may be due to COVID-19 related modifications.

MSc Wild Animal Health

We will calculate classifications in two ways – and award you whichever method provides the highest classification:

  1. Calculate your final result in the usual way and including assessments modified due to COVID-19. Student results will be ranked and students awarded classifications based upon the historical bandings below.
  2. Calculate your final result based on the existing formula but excluding assessments modified due to COVID-19. Student results will be ranked and students awarded classifications based upon the historical bandings below

Classification bandings:

  • Distinction: Top 25%
  • Merit: Next 50%
  • Pass: Next 25%

This will ensure that you will not be penalised for poor performance in 2019/20 that may be due to COVID-19 related modifications.

MSc Veterinary Epidemiology

We will calculate classifications in two ways – and award you whichever method provides the highest classification:

  1. Calculate your final result in the usual way and including assessments modified due to COVID-19. Student results will be ranked and students awarded classifications based upon the historical bandings below.
  2. Calculate your final result based on the existing formula but excluding assessments modified due to COVID-19. Student results will be ranked and students awarded classifications based upon the historical bandings below

Classification bandings:

  • Distinction: Top 20%
  • Merit: Next 40%
  • Pass: Next 40%

This will ensure that you will not be penalised for poor performance in 2019/20 that may be due to COVID-19 related modifications.

PGDip Veterinary Clinical Practice (Interns)

This is an unclassified award so there is no change to existing Assessment and Award regulations 2019/20.

MVetMed (Residents)

Year 3, is a classified award with the vast majority of modular assessments completed prior to lockdown and therefore not requiring modification. Small elements of the Research Project and viva voce only have been completed during this period. Classifications will therefore be calculated using the existing method according to year of entry:

Year 1 & Year 2 are unclassified awards so no modifications to existing Assessment and Award Regulations above are required.

For all three years, there are additional clinical requirements to confirm completion of award – please see Assessment and Award Regulations 2019/20 above for further information.

PGCert Veterinary Clinical Studies

This is an unclassified award so there is no change to existing Assessment and Award regulations 2019/20.


International Students

How does this situation affect my Tier 4 visa status?

Information for students travelling from overseas required to self-isolate for Term 3  →

EU/EEA and Swiss students need to be mindful of their changing citizen rights in light of Brexit and the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. For further information, please visit our Brexit intranet pages.

  • Students and sponsors will not be found non-compliant if they undertake online provision.  “In light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing, the Home Office is also waiving a number of requirements on visa sponsors, such as allowing non-EU nationals here under work or study routes to undertake their work or study from home”
  • The Home Office issued a press notice on 25 March 2020 - Visas extended for those currently unable to return home due to COVID-19 - which covers various visa-related issues:-
    • Visa extensions - now available until the end of May (from end of March initially). An extension can be obtained by simply emailing CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk to provide the following information:
      • Full name (including any middle names)
      • Date of Birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
      • Nationality
      • Existing visa details
      • Reason that has required you to extend your stay (for example, the suspension of all flights to your place of permanent residence)
      • Please note this email must be in English
    • In-country visa switching is now permitted across all routes for those who are currently in the UK and whose visa expires/d between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020
    • Students and sponsors will not be found non-compliant if they undertake online provision.  “In light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing, the Home Office is also waiving a number of requirements on visa sponsors, such as allowing non-EU nationals here under work or study routes to undertake their work or study from home”
  • Further independent advice can be obtained from the UK Council for International Student Affairs
  • Please also email the Advice Centre if you have individual queries regarding your student visa as our International Student Advisor can also help.


Research Students

Access to research facilities

For full details of the rules and to access the relevant on-line forms for the two campuses please visit Accessing the College's Research Facilities (on the RVC intranet).

Can I continue my research?

Please liaise closely with your supervisor over specific arrangements regarding your PhD and working from home as productively as possible.  We fully appreciate that these restrictions will affect each student in differing ways, depending on the nature and stage of your project.

As the RVC laboratories are now closed, if you have outstanding lab work that is the only remaining aspect of your thesis work that needs completing, discuss how essential this work is to your thesis, how long it will take and how this fits in with the revised time line for your thesis.

Can I request at extension to my PhD?

Applications for extensions because of the impact of Covid and the initial lockdown closed on 30th October and decisions have been communicated.  All students should now be following revised PhD programmes that take account of current access to research facilities which have remained open for essential activity despite the more recent lockdown and subsequent Tier 4 designation.  Students requiring extensions for other reasons should follow the standard process.

Should Annual Appraisals continue as normal?

Appraisals should be scheduled as normal. However, in these circumstances, video-conferencing should be used and copies of the forms emailed to RDOfficer@rvc.ac.uk on completion.

Should supervisory meetings continue?

Scheduled meetings between PhD students and their supervisors should continue, replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual meetings by telephone or videoconferencing (e.g. Skype, Zoom or Teams).

The expectation is that the frequency of such meetings should be increased, if possible, in the current climate.

PgR Manager should be used to document and keep track of such meetings.

Can I still get access to Journals via the Library?

All remote Library services including ebooks and ejournals are available as usual using SCOUT.

Can I request an interruption to my postgraduate studies?

In the first instance, do discuss contingency plans with your supervisor that will enable you to continue to work productively on your research project or thesis without having to consider the need for a potential interruption. This may include changing the phasing of work to bring forward some activities and to delay others. It may also be possible to revise objectives or add complementary ones that can be achieved whilst working remotely and will add value to the body of work to be included in the thesis. However, if, despite your best efforts, productivity is impeded it is imperative that any delays are well documented and the impact on progress clearly outlined. Consider whether switching to part-time study (0.5FTE or 0.8FTE) is a possibility, in particular where you have additional responsibilities due to the current situation. If an interruption to your studies is still the preferred option, this should be discussed and agreed with the funding body, including whether they agree to a no-cost extension (any period of interruption will automatically result in a commensurate extension to the end of the studentship). Unfortunately the College is not currently in a position to fund students during a period of interruption and so stipend payments will be halted when a student chooses to interrupt. Our normal policies on pay during interruptions for maternity or sickness leave will continue to apply.  The normal processes in applying for extensions to College funded 3 year studentships also continue to apply.

Do I need to submit a hard copy of my thesis?

During the current COVID-19 outbreak, hard copies of your thesis will not be required, and examiners will be sent the electronic copy only.

The PhD submission form can be found on Learn and we do not require physical signatures. An email confirmation in lieu of the signature is enough.

How will my viva voce examination be conducted?

Viva voice examinations should be conducted by video conferencing rather than face-to-face.

Please contact the Graduate school (researchdegrees@rvc.ac.uk) for more information and then do please discuss specific arrangements with your supervisor.


Accommodation

Will I have to self-isolate on return to RVC campus-based accommodation?

What services are available on campus?

  • There is no change to the parking permit allocations and the process has proceeded as usual and is now concluded. 
  • A full bus service will be reinstated and additional services will be run as needed due to reduced capacity to ensure distancing. See Hawkshead Bus Timetable (PDF)
  • Currently our restaurants are open and providing takeaway food only. Fuller details will be provided to students in halls.
  • For full details of Campus Services please visit our Community Safety pages .

Should I go ahead and sign a private rental agreement for 2020/21 academic year?

Due to continued COVID-19 restrictions, we are unable to open fully all learning locations to all students for face-to-face activity within the 2020.21 academic year. Return to onsite blended learning for different years and programmes has therefore been agreed as recently communicated – and may be subject to further change should UK Government restrictions dictate. We advise you to think very carefully before entering into any formal rental agreement local to RVC campuses /other learning locations unless you are sure that you will be living there regardless of teaching delivery method and UK Government restrictions permit you to re-locate.

If you do decide to enter into a contract with a private landlord and need a reference letter from the RVC, please visit and log in to RoVer to download a “Reference Letter for Landlords” letter from the “Letters and Council Tax Forms” section. We have also produced a letter that you can download from RoVer entitled “Student private accommodation letter of support” (see above log-in link) and present to your private landlord explaining the changes that have affected RVC students and requesting that they are supportive of our students in relation to contract cancellation, refunds, partial refunds or payment plans.

The RVC is signed up to University of London Housing Services (ULHS) and we recommend for students studying in Camden to use the service to find accommodation for subsequent years. You can view the accommodation options available by visiting: https://housing.london.ac.uk/find-accommodation. They also have a really useful Private Housing Guide which contains very useful information on private rented accommodation.


Travel

For further information follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#who-this-guidance-is-for

International travel

Travelling internationally from England

The legally permitted reasons to leave home for international travel are the same as the reasons found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#international-travel in the ‘When you can leave home’ section. 

In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.

If you do need to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so) you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.

Where do I find information regarding travel in the England?

There are currently no restrictions on travel within England. Be mindful that surge testing can happen at any time in an area of England, with specific requirements to undergo PCR testing prior to leaving that area. More information regarding areas with active surge testing can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/surge-testing-for-new-coronavirus-covid-19-variants 

Where do I find information regarding international travel from England?

You can find information here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-abroad-from-england-during-coronavirus-covid-19

In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.

If you do need to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so) you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.

Will the RVC support COVID-19 test costs if needed to travel overseas?

The RVC will only contribute to the costs of tests in relation to international travel where international travel is a requirement of the course of study or programme of research. This means that students undertaking international AHEMS, EMS or nursing placements will be responsible for organising the tests and the full costs of any COVID-19 testing associated with that travel. Students undertaking approved study abroad or research activity overseas will be supported with COVID-19 testing associated with international travel as outlined below:

How do I claim the contribution up to £50 for Post-arrival COVID-19 Tests?

For students returning from overseas for the start of the academic year 2021/22, the RVC will make a contribution of up to £50 towards the UK government mandated post-arrival Covid-19 day 2 or day 2 and 8 tests, on production of receipts. Students will not be able to claim a contribution for pre-departure tests. Please note, this applies to travel to return to the RVC at the start of term 1 but not for any trips home during the term.

  • Please send an email to rvcaccountspayable@rvc.ac.uk with the subject heading “COVID-19 test contribution – Your Name – Your Student Number”.
  • You should write your name at the top of the receipt and your certificate and attach a scan/photo of this to the email.
  • You should include the following statement in the email “I confirm that my travel was to return to the RVC for the beginning of the academic year 2021/22
  • If we already hold your bank account details, no further action is required and the funds will be paid into your account.
  • If we do not hold your details, you will be asked to complete a secure on-line form with this information so that payment can be made.
  • If you have any questions or need assistance submitting a claim please contact the Advice Centre (phone: 020 8051 3500) Once the Finance team makes payment, you will be sent a notification by email (payments usually clear on Friday each week).

Once the Finance team makes payment, you will be sent a notification by email (payments usually clear on Friday each week).

Are there implications for Overseas Business Travel?

Yes, our policy has been updated to include guidelines about seeking approval for, and quarantining after, Business Travel overseas. Please find full details here.

Do I have to self-isolate after Personal Travel overseas?

Staff - please see guidelines for travel on the intranet.

Students - please see guidelines for returning to the RVC here.

What do I need to do to return to England from overseas for the start of the academic year 2021/22?


Future Award Classifications

Please read the general practice and principles in conjunction with the course-specific information below.


Accounting for 2019/20 formative results in future award classifications and transcripts

General practice and principles

General practice and principles to ensure fairness and award standards for taught programme awards

Following approval by our Academic Board, we are pleased to confirm our approach to account for 2019/20 formative results in future award classifications for taught programmes. Thank you for your patience and understanding for the time taken to confirm these to you. We have taken note of good practice in the sector and guidance from the Quality Assurance Agency to ensure that modified classification methodologies maintain the standards of our awards whilst ensuring that student achievement is recognised. In determining revised methods for calculating award classifications where 2019/20 results are formative, we have adopted the following practice and principles:

  1. Acceptance that for 2019/20 credit is awarded based upon participation, not the achievement of a threshold mark.
  2. Acknowledgment that formative marks are not appropriate to be used in the calculation of final award classifications.
  3. Wherever possible, ensuring that final year/stage marks alone do not determine final award classification.
  4. Where this is not possible, ensuring that there is an additional “safety net” within the final year/stage to maintain a “no detriment” approach for students.
  5. Adopting this policy of “no detriment” by applying more than one methodology where possible, awarding the student the more advantageous classification if the methodologies produce different outcomes.
  6. Ensuring that transcripts note 2019/20 results as formative to account for any marks that appear to be below usual threshold requirements.
  7. As ever, students who wish to dispute their final award have the option to do so by following the procedures outlined in our Appeals and Representation policy and Student Complaints and Resolution Procedure (depending on nature of dispute) once their result has been published.

    Full detail of intended awards for each course is available on the FAQs below.

BVetMed

If you are in the Gateway year 2019/20, your eligibility for honours will be calculated by the existing formula as Gateway results are not utilised in honours calculation. No account therefore needs to be made of their formative nature in 2019/20.  

If you are in BVetMed4 in 2019/20, your eligibility for honours will be calculated by the existing formula as your 2019/20 assessments were conducted summatively prior to any COVID-19 impacts or restrictions. There are therefore no formative assessments for BVetMed4 in 2019/20 that would need to be accounted for in future honours classifications.   

If you are studying in BVetMet1, BVetMed2, BVetMed3 or GAB in 2019/20, you are eligible for the award of honours if you achieve 10 honours points from finals assessments AND achieve 37.5% of the total honours points available to you (i.e.: excluding those attributed to 2019/20). NB: If you are required to defer Finals Part 1 (OSCE) due to earlier failure in the course, you are NOT eligible for the overall award of honours.  

Additionally, if you are in Year 3 of study in 2019/20, overall honours will be calculated using two methods, one including the 2019/20 Professional Studies honours points achieved with 0.8 in the overall honours points available (distinction = 0.8 points, merit = 0.4 points) and one excluding these from the overall honours points available. You will be awarded overall honours if you are eligible by either method.

BSc Biosciences Programmes

If you are in Year 1 of a BSc Biosciences, your degree classification will be calculated by the existing formula as Year 1 results are not used in degree classification calculation. No account therefore needs to be made of their formative nature in 2019/20.  

If you are in Year 2 of a BSc Biosciences degree, we will calculate your award classification by the two methods below and award you the highest classification from either method:         

  1. Use the marks from your summative assessments taken pre-COVID-19 (i.e. your Term 1 modules). The aggregate mark from these assessments will contribute a 30% weighting towards your degree classification with your aggregate mark from Year 3 contributing a 70% weighting towards your degree classification.     
  2. Use the aggregate mark from your Year 3 assessments alone to determine your degree classification.

MSci Biosciences Programmes

If you are in Year 1 of an MSci Biosciences, your degree classification will be calculated by the existing formula as Year 1 results are not used in degree classification calculation. No account therefore needs to be made of their formative nature in 2019/20.  

If you are in Year 3 of an MSci Biosciences, you have taken summative assessments in 2019/20 alongside the BSc Biosciences Year 3 students and the existing formula will therefore be used.  

If you are in Year 2 of an MSci Biosciences degree, we will calculate your final award classification by the two methods below and award you the highest classification from either method:         

  1. Use the marks from your summative assessments taken pre-COVID-19 (i.e. your Term 1 modules). The aggregate mark from these assessments will contribute a 15% weighting towards your degree classification with your aggregate mark from Year 3 contributing a 15% weighting towards your degree classification and the aggregate mark from Year 4 contributing a 70% weighting.      
  2. Use the aggregate mark from your Year 3 assessments with a weighting of 30% towards classification and the aggregate mark from your Year 4 assessments contributing 70% weighting towards your overall degree classification.

FdSc Veterinary Nursing

If you are in Year 1 of the FdSc in Veterinary Nursing, your award classification will be calculated by the existing formula as Year 1 results are not used in award classification calculation. No account therefore needs to be made of their formative nature in 2019/20.  

If you are currently in Year 2 of the FdSc in Veterinary Nursing, we will need to calculate your award classification based upon your performance in Year 3 alone. However, if you wish to have a second attempt at any assessment from Year 3 you will be able to do so and this second assessment opportunity will not be capped. The highest mark from each assessment will be used when calculating your final award classification.

BSc Veterinary Nursing

If you are in Year 1 of the BSc in Veterinary Nursing, your award classification will be calculated by the existing formula as Year 1 results are not used in award classification calculation. No account therefore needs to be made of their formative nature in 2019/20.  

If you are currently in Year 3 of the BSc in Veterinary Nursing your 2019/20 assessments were summative as required for the interim award of the FdSc Veterinary Nursing so your final award classification will be calculated using the existing formula.

If you are currently in Year 2 of the BSc in Veterinary Nursing we will calculate your final degree classification based upon the year aggregate mark for Year 3 with a weighting of 20% contribution to overall classification. Your Year 4 aggregate year mark will contribute an 80% weighting to overall degree classification.

Graduate Diploma in Professional and Clinical Veterinary Nursing

If you are currently in Stage 1 of the GradDip in Professional and Clinical Veterinary Nursing, we will need to calculate your award classification based upon your performance in Stage 2  alone. However, if you wish to re-sit any assessments from Stage 2 you will be able to do so and this second assessment opportunity will not be capped. The highest mark from each assessment will be used when calculating your final award classification.

Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research

 This programme is already delivered remotely and no assessments have been modified due to COVID-19. However, to account for any personal COVID-19 impacts that may have disadvantaged you, your future award classification will be calculated by the two methods below and you will be awarded the higher classification obtained from either method:      

  1. Award classification is calculated using combined marks from Stage 2 alone.     
  2. Award classification is calculated using combined marks from both Stage 1 and Stage 2 as per existing formula.

MSc Programmes

MSc programmes are generally taken over a single year with a full-time study load. If you are studying part-time in 2019/20, we will calculate your final award classification by the two methods below and award you the higher classification obtained from either method: 

  1. Award classification is calculated excluding marks obtained in 2019/20.     
  2. Award classification is calculated using the existing method utilising a combined mark from all components.

MVetMed (Residents)

This is an unclassified award so there is no change to assessment and award regulations as advertised.

PG Cert Veterinary Studies

This is an unclassified award so there is no change to assessment and award regulations as advertised.

I want to leave my course early - how will 2019/20 formative results be used in calculating any exit award?

If you wish to leave your programme early you may be eligible for the award of a qualification such as a Certificate or Diploma of Higher Education for undergraduate students or a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma if you are currently studying at postgraduate level. (NB: These are examples so this is not an exhaustive list of available awards.) Please do let your tutor and the Student Records Team know via email if you are thinking about leaving your course. We will advise you of your options and next steps. We will also determine the highest qualification available to you, utilising the principles outlined above. As per our Extraordinary Regulations Principles in Response to Coronavirus/COVID-19, we may make the award on a pass/fail basis only. In all cases, we will provide you with a transcript of your results.


Interns and Residents

What exactly is the specific situation at work for all of us since we are considered students (and not technically staff

We hope you are all keeping well, we realise this is a worrying and uncertain time for everyone. Please rest assured we are doing everything we can do support our entire community; students, staff and our clients. As all your programmes are almost entirely based in clinical environments, the current situation with COVID-19 presents additional challenges compared to other RVC students. Hopefully the answers below resolve some of your queries and as soon as we have further information, we will pass it on. Please contact Vicky or Dom with any concerns you still have and we will be happy to chat with you.

Could time away from clinics/diagnostics affect our ability to complete our residencies on time?

Both interns and residents can work from home on non-clinical tasks and studies.Please discuss and agree with your supervisor(s) which activities can be done at home to maximise your productivity and progress towards completing your programme in a timely manner. We will be flexible and reschedule core/clinical activities to complement whatever information we receive from EBVS and ABVS to ensure as smooth and efficient progress as possible towards completing on time.

Not being able to complete DOPs etc for MVetMed by the deadlines. Will these be extended? Will this affect our progression? For example my MVetMed year moves from year two to year three in July. If we don’t complete our year two requirements does this mean we are not going to progress into your three? Will this affect finish date or pay?

In discussion with the examination office, please submit all materials that you have (case reports, WPBA etc) by the timeline already specified and contact Lisa Harber or Bernadette Dulko if you have any outstanding submissions. Late submissions will not affect your ability to progress with the course (MVetMed). For the PGDip we hope that there is sufficient time for assessments to be complete prior to the Exam Board (June), though this date and graduation might be changed in lieu of the current situation. In the meantime, we are happy for you to send in your WPBA assessments (case reports PG Dip) as usual, if you are able to do them.

Will being sent home or sick leave or quarantine affect pay or finish date?

Both interns and residents can work from home on non-clinical tasks and studies on usual pay. As above, please liaise with your supervisor(s) to agree on the most productive way to work from home. See above comment about completion of courses with regards to this affecting the finish date. Further information about the T&C’s for any extensions needed will be forthcoming, if needed, in due course. If you are off sick, the normal sickness policy (available on Learn) applies.

How will the above affect our credentials for sitting Boards?

We expect EBVS and ABVS are already discussing how to facilitate this as best they can and we will update you as soon as we receive any information, though it is likely you will receive information from your specialty College as soon as they have a plan.

Are we still expected to do the critical appraisal of a journal article by the deadline given that we are trying to minimise several people in a room together?

We will extend this deadline and let you know the updated deadline as soon as we can. In the meantime, we have been successfully holding journal clubs of 10-15 people this week using Microsoft Teams meetings which is free to anyone with an RVC email and office account – go to your Outlook calendar and click on the Teams meeting icon. We are happy for the MVetMed Journal Club assessments to be held in this way and the assessment form submitted as usual to the MVetMed admin email address.


Student Complaints

How do I make a complaint?

We understand that you may not always be happy with the service or educational experience that is provided by the RVC. This may be particularly true when we are required to make rapid changes in response to a changing external environment, such as those necessitated by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. We know that we will not always get it right first time, or that you may feel that we have not adequately communicated the reasons for changes, so please do let us know as soon as possible if you have a concern.

You should raise your concern as soon as possible directly with the area/service in question as this will help us to respond to your concern swiftly and locally. This should be via email – not social media as those forums are not formally monitored so your concern may not be heard. Concerns regarding teaching and assessment for taught programmes should be raised with your year leader or course director.

For research students, if you have concerns regarding your research or learning experience these should be directed to your supervisor or the graduate school team. For concerns relating to an RVC service, all students should liaise with their service contact or managers within the service (please see our intranet pages for further information).


You can raise any concern via your course rep (please see LEARN pages for further information) – particularly helpful if you believe that you may not be the only student disaffected.
If we do not resolve your concern to your satisfaction you can make a formal complaint to the RVC using the Student Complaints and Resolution Procedure – which also has further information about more informal resolution and sources of support.


Vaccinations

How do vaccinations work?

What is the difference between immune response and immunity?

When our immune system encounters a pathogen, it will always mount an immune response to this. Visible signs for this are, for example, swollen tonsils, swollen lymph nodes, which are main reaction centres. However, not every immune response will induce immunity. Immunity is the capability of our immune system/body to resist harmful microorganisms (aka pathogen).

What is Sars-CoV2 doing in our immune system?

 Sars-CoV2, the causative agent of COVID-19, inhibits the production of one of the main anti-viral immune mediators in infected cells, the production of interferon-beta.

Why was it possible to produce these vaccines so fast?

It should be noted that none of the current vaccines is employing a new technology. Both BionTech and Moderna are using the mRNA approach in current vaccines against specific cancer forms. The Oxford/AstraZeneca developed vaccine technology is already in trials for human TB, HIV and Ebola. So, all these vaccine technologies have a safety profile. Due to the fact there was great investment into the development of the vaccines against Sars-CoV2, and the fact that many studies were run in parallel, rather than consecutively, the scientists were able to perform a lot more work in a relatively short timeframe.

What are the currently licenced vaccines doing?

Of the three vaccines that are currently at the forefront (produced by BionTech/Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca) all are stimulating an antibody response against one of the major proteins of Sars-Cov2, the so-called Spike protein. This results in the inability of the virus to bind to its receptor, and also flags the virus for destruction by our immune system.

Is one vaccine preferable to another for specific patients?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is authorized for ages ≥12 years, and Moderna’s and for ≥18 years. During the initial period of vaccine scarcity, it was recommended that any Covid-19 vaccine would be appropriate for any adult, but vaccine supply is now sufficient to make a more nuanced recommendation. Specifically, based on review of data since the emergency use authorization of the Johnson&Johnson J vaccine, it is now know that this vaccine may rarely induce a potentially severe clotting disorder called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Younger women appear to be at higher risk, and hence clinicians may wish to recommend one of the mRNA vaccines for women under 50. Furthermore, the J&J vaccine is not yet approved for use in the UK.

Does the second inoculation (or any booster) need to be the same (mRNA) vaccine?

The mechanism of action of the two mRNA vaccines is the same, but not that one of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine. Thus, none of them is identical, and the second shot should be from the same vaccine as the first. There are no data to indicate that receiving a different vaccine as a second shot would be unsafe or less effective, but the vaccines have not been studied this way and such hybrid dosing strategies should be avoided in most circumstances.

Why is there such debate about the AstraZeneca vaccine?

The discussion centres on the fact that the data submitted to the UK and EU authorities were different, AstraZeneca did not provide EU authorities with what they considered as sufficient evidence that the vaccine induces protection in people older than 65. This is purely based on the way the original cohort of people was composed and could potentially have no impact on the real-life situation.

What does an efficacy of 95% (or others) actually mean?

Normally, this means that 95 of 100 vaccinated people are protected. But, the maths are more complicated than that! For example, in the case of Pfizer, the company recruited 43,661 volunteers, who were randomly attributed to either placebo or vaccinated group. Of these, all of them were of equal risk of being challenged with the virus. However, out of the 170 people that displayed CVID-19 symptoms and that were confirmed with a positive test, 162 had received a placebo dose, and just eight had received the real vaccine.

Will the vaccines protect me from infection?

Based on current knowledge, using publicly available data, all three vaccines are doing the most important job, which is reducing the severity of disease symptoms (which is good for the population and also good for the NHS as it highly likely that this will mean a reduction in pressure on intensive care units including fewer patients needing to be ventilated). However, based on our current understanding, it is not yet clear whether the vaccine will prevent viral shedding in infected persons nor if it will prevent re-infection.

Will the vaccines provide long-term protection?

It’s too early to know if COVID-19 vaccines will provide long-term protection. Additional research is needed to answer this question. However, it’s encouraging that available data suggests that most people who recover from COVID-19 develop an immune response that provides at least some period of protection against reinfection – although we’re still learning how strong this protection is, and how long it lasts. Most COVID-19 vaccines being tested or reviewed now are using two-dose regimens.

Will booster doses be required?

This is an area of intense investigation and debate, especially with widespread circulation of vaccine variants that are more transmissible and more immune evasive. As of 22 August, the assumption is that for those that are immunocompromised (and thus are the most vulnerable) it will be recommended, but one has to wait and see how broadly this will be extended.

Are there contraindications to the vaccines?

The only absolute contraindication to these vaccines is known hypersensitivity to the vaccine components. There are specific recommendations regarding the contraindications list, which can be found here.

Should I get vaccinated if I was tested positive for COVID-19?

Currently there are no data available to support the use of any of the Covid-19 vaccines when someone shows symptoms of an acute SARS-CoV2 infection or to prevent disease after a known exposure to an active case. Since the incubation period for Covid-19 averages around 5 days, it is unlikely that the vaccine would elicit an immune response quickly enough to block infection. As a result, people who have been exposed to Covid-19 should finish their 10- to 14-day self-isolation before undergoing immunization. Once we know more about the vaccine effect, this may become a future recommendation for Covid-19 vaccination, but currently it is not.

Why are governments concerned about the new mutants?

First of all, one needs to understand that all viruses are constantly mutating. To “survive” they need to evade our immune system. Depending where these mutations occur, vaccines may not work with the same efficacy anymore. The structural changes to the Spike protein in the two dominant mutant viruses are small and so the expectation is that the vaccines should still offer protection against these mutant viruses, and at least for the BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, this seems to be the case.

What would happen if the vaccines are not effective anymore?

All three of the main vaccines currently have the ability to be quickly technically adapted to target new antigens.

Should I continue to use the LFT test after I have received my COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The current advice is that staff and students who are coming onto campus have received the vaccine should continue to test regularly with LFTs. The vaccine should not lead to a false positive result from a LFT.

If I have been COVID-19 positive in the past 90 days should I take a LFT test?

Yes. The current guidance states that once your 10 day self-isolation period is completed, that LFTs can continue to be used. They should not lead to false positive results. The use of PCR tests within the 90 day period after a COVID-19 infection should not be used for asymptomatic screening, as they may lead to  false positive results. In such cases, you would be required to self-isolate again.

Why will children under the age of 12 not be vaccinated at the moment?

This advice has been given at the moment purely concentrating on the effect of a SARS-CoV2 infection in children of this age group. By balancing the the health benefit to the individual child, vaccination would not provide a significant improvement, i.e., they may get infected but do not get particularly ill.

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