Test and Trace - for University of London students

Asymptomatic Test Site at Student Central

Information and guidance for the NHS Test and Trace service at the University of London

Page last updated: 14 May 2021 at 11:30

Updated testing information - May 2021

Get tested regularly

About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. You should do a rapid test twice a week (every 3 to 4 days) to check if you have the virus. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.

The University of London COVID-19 asymptomatic test site (ATS) at Student Central offers on-site rapid lateral flow tests for eligible students and staff of the University and partner institutions.

You can also get packs of tests to do yourself at home, or use an asymptomatic test site operated by the local authority where you live. See the NHS website for details.

Please remember that rapid lateral flow tests are only suitable for people who don’t have symptoms of coronavirus.

Returning to campus

The government has said that students on all courses can return to face-to-face teaching from Monday 17 May.

You are encouraged to test before traveling back to university, either through your local community testing programme or by ordering a pack of free tests online.

Testing on arrival

On arrival back at university, you should take three tests at an on-site testing facility, 3 to 4 days apart. After those initial tests, you should test twice a week using either home test kits or an on-site facility.

Reporting home test results

If you test at home, it is very important to report your results online to NHS Test & Trace whether positive, negative or void. Reporting results helps the NHS monitor the spread of the virus, combat the virus and save lives.

Important notice

Overview of NHS Test and Trace for University of London students

Where can I get my test / where is Student Central?

The NHS Test and Trace programme at University of London is taking place at Student Central, University of London.

You are encouraged to walk or cycle, where possible. 

If you are using public transport:

  • Student Central is a 20 minute walk from Kings Cross station and 15 minutes from Euston.
  • Goodge Street (Northern line), Russell Square (Piccadilly line) and Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines) are under a 10 minute walk.
  • Euston Square (Metropolitan, Circle and District lines), Holborn (Central and Piccadilly lines) and Warren Street (Northern and Victoria lines) are all under a 15 minute walk away.

When is the testing site open?

Monday, 08:00-17:00; Tuesday to Friday, 11:00-17:00.

Who is eligible for the NHS Test and Trace programme at University of London?

Any UK student at the following Member Institutions only can get a test through this NHS Test and Trace programme: 

  • Birkbeck, University of London 
  • Courtauld Institute of Art 
  • City, University of London 
  • Goldsmiths 
  • The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
  • London Business School (LBS) 
  • The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
  • Royal Academy of Music (RAM) 
  • Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCCSD) 
  • Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) 
  • Royal Veterinary College (RVC) 
  • School of Advanced Study (SAS)
  • SOAS 
  • University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP)
  • Students staying at University of London Halls or Accommodation 

Students from institutes not listed above are advised to contact their own university for further information. The University of London has partnered with a number of other institutions

Are these tests compulsory?

Asymptomatic tests are not compulsory, but students and staff are strongly advised to test before returning to campus, then every 3 to 4 days whilst on campus.

Anyone who experiences symptoms of COVID-19 must follow government guidance about self-isolation and book a PCR test through nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 in England and Wales, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How can I book a test?

You must book your test online. You cannot be tested without having booked online in advance. To meet the challenges of the staggered return to onsite study, you can only book up to 8 days before the test. However you can now book up to an hour before the appointment.  

Instructions to book your test

  1. Go to the booking form
  2. Choose a service and date 
  3. Then, choose your selected date from the calendar 
  4. Choose your preferred time slot
  5. Add your name and email address
  6. Provide additional details
  7. You will need to accept the privacy notice before you complete your booking

Help or support

Assisted testing is available for anyone who may require additional help with the process. Find out more or contact us before, or after, booking your test via email uol.trace@london.ac.uk 

Confirmation

Please remember to bring your email confirmation, your student/staff ID (and your halls ID if you live in intercollegiate halls) to Student Central. If you are having a second test we would recommend booking another test slot for 3 days after this initial test, if you haven’t already done so.

Should I be tested before I travel?

If possible yes.  To minimise the risk to yourself and others on your return to university you should follow local restriction tier guidance on social contact. If you are living in an area which is offering the use of local community testing programme, you should seek to get tested before your return. 

If you are unable to access mass asymptomatic testing before travelling, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers band get a test as soon as possible after you arrive

If you test positive for coronavirus, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days before travelling and to assist NHS Test and Trace with contact tracing. Your household will need to follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.

Find out more from the Office for Students.
 

What about international students?

The rules about entering the UK and requirements for self-isolation change on 17 May, with countries assigned red, amber, or green status. The guidance can change at any time, so students are advised to refer to the latest information on the government website.

How many tests do I need? 

You should test twice a week, every week, spacing your tests 3 to 4 days apart.

What about commuter students?

All adults are advised to have regular tests, 3 to 4 days apart. As a commuter student, you can use the Student Central test site on days when you visit campus. You can also use your local community testing programme or order a pack of free tests online.

Am I forbidden from returning to my term time accommodation?

No. From 17 May, all higher education courses are permitted to return to in-person teaching. You should follow advice from your university department about returning to campus. If your department is not resuming in-person teaching this academic year, you are encouraged to continue remote study unless your personal circumstances require you to return to term-time accommodation.

What safety measures are in place for me on site?

  • Enhanced and more frequent cleaning
  • Hand sanitiser available throughout the building
  • One-way systems supported by increased signage to manage the flow of people
  • Reduced capacities to allow for 2m social distancing
  • ‘No mask, no entry’ policy (unless medically exempt)

What should I do if I need to cancel a test I have already booked?

The e-mail you were sent to confirm your booking includes a link to cancel a test if you cannot attend. Please do cancel as it frees up the test time for another person who needs it.

University of London students: Getting your free asymptomatic Covid-19 test

Use our online booking form to book your free asymptomatic Covid-19 test. You cannot receive a test without having booked in advance.

Book your free test

Frequently Asked Questions

These Frequently Asked Questions have been provided by the NHS and modified for use by the University of London. 

About the NHS Test and Trace programme at University of London

Why is the NHS advising students to get tested even if they are asymptomatic but telling other people to only get tested if they have symptoms?

The lateral flow testing programme does not replace current testing policy for those with symptoms. This is a new technology to identify individuals who don’t have any symptoms, but who may be asymptomatic carriers and therefore could still spread the virus to others. 

Will the existing testing service remain open?

The Government’s normal testing service for symptomatic individuals will continue. This is the foundation of their testing strategy. It is the most effective way to know if you are positive and need to self-isolate. Even if you take part in Lateral Flow testing (this NHS Test and Trace programme at University of London), if you have symptoms, you should continue to book a test via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 in England and Wales, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Can my family get tested too?

No, this test is aimed at students and staff in universities. Family members of staff and students are not eligible.

If family members experience COVID-19 symptoms, they must follow standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test through  nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 in England and Wales, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Why should I take the test?

The January/February tests are designed to support a safe return to education for students and staff and to limit the spread of Covid-19. Testing will help to keep you and the people you live with safe.

Why would I take the test? If positive I’ll have to self-isolate. Why would I take the risk?

Taking a test will reassure you and your family members, friends or loved ones that it is unlikely that you will return home for Christmas with infections Covid-19, potentially endangering a vulnerable person. 

Can a negative test guarantee that I can’t infect my family? What can I do to protect my family as much as possible?

A negative test does not guarantee that you cannot infect your family members, friends or loved ones but it does show that you are unlikely to have coronavirus at the time you were tested. 

We strongly recommend taking at least one test. 

If you have only just become infected, there is a small chance of testing negative because the virus has not reached high enough levels to be detected by this test (false negative). Two tests increases the chance of detecting coronavirus infection in its early stages. For that reason the best model is to take 2 tests, three to five days apart before travelling home. Make sure to stay socially distanced from other people after your first test as this will help you avoid catching coronavirus after that point. You must travel within 24 hours after you receive a 2nd negative test result. You do not need to isolate from your family members, friends or loved ones when you get home.

If you are only planning to take one test you should travel within 24 hours of a negative result. 

If I am a close contact to someone who tested positive, should I get tested? Can I leave self-isolation to take the tests?

If you are currently a close contact of a case, you should be in self-isolation. This test is meant for people who do not show symptoms and who are not close contacts of confirmed cases. 

About lateral flow antigen tests

I’m confused: how many different types of tests are out there and what’s the difference between them?

There are two main types of test used to check if people currently have coronavirus. 

The first type of test is known as a PCR test, and looks for the virus’s genetic material (Ribonucleic acid or RNA). These tests are currently more commonly used in the NHS for symptomatic testing. They require a laboratory to be processed. 

The second is called a lateral flow antigen test, which detects the coronavirus antigen that is produced when a person is infectious with coronavirus. These are quicker tests that produce a result within 30 minutes and do not require a laboratory to be processed. This is the test that is currently being offered in this programme at University of London. 
 

Is the test safe?

Lateral flow tests are a validated technology, they are safe and the results are trusted. These tests have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation including at Public Health England’s research laboratories to ensure they are verified for use. 

How accurate is the test? 

Lateral flow tests are very accurate (highly specific), which means that only a very small proportion of people who do not have coronavirus will receive a positive result (false positive). However, in mass testing, because so many people without symptoms are being tested there is still the possibility of getting a false positive result. That is why you should have a confirmatory PCR test to make sure the result is correct. 

This also means that if you test positive on a lateral flow test, it is likely that you are infectious at that moment, whereas people testing positive on the PCR test could be in the less infectious early or late stages of disease.

Will it replace existing testing technology?

At present, the new testing technologies are intended to complement, not replace existing testing technology for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms. The Government is testing a wide range of technologies which we hope can be deployed in time. 

About the lateral flow testing process at Student Central, University of London

What happens if I’m exempted from wearing a mask or face covering?

Appropriate face coverings need to be worn throughout the testing process whilst in the testing facility at Student Central, University of London, apart from when guided by a testing professional to remove it when your sample is taken.

Should you have age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering, please wear a visor to the site and alert the site manager about your situation as soon as you arrive at site so that they can take additional precautions.

Please note the visor alone is not considered face covering as they do not provide adequate protection alone. 

How can you ensure that testing is accessible to disabled people, including those who are visually impaired and/or have a hearing impairment?

Assisted testing is available for anyone who may require additional help with the process – including assistance with the swabbing of their throat or nose, or help with reading instructions. If an assisted test is required, please inform staff upon arrival, when completing registration.

Student Central, University of London, was identified as a suitable location for the testing centre because it has wheelchair access throughout the building. 

If you need any help or support, please contact us before, or after, booking your test via email uol.trace@london.ac.uk 

About the lateral flow test results

How will I get my results? 

You will receive a message with your results by text or email, depending on which details you provided when you registered.

Other than me, who will see my results?

A copy of your result will be sent to your GP. If you have tested positive, a notification will be sent to Public Health England (in England), Public Health Wales (in Wales), Health Protection Scotland (in Scotland), or the Public Health Agency (in Northern Ireland). 

University of London and NHS Test and Trace also takes the protection of your privacy very seriously. To find out how your personal data will be used when you register for a coronavirus test read the Government’s coronavirus privacy note.

What will happen if my lateral flow test result is negative?

You no longer need to isolate but you must continue to observe current Tier guidance.

What will happen if my lateral flow test result is positive?

Anyone whose test returns a positive outcome will still need to self-isolate in accordance with current government guidance, inform their university and seek a PCR test form the NHS This test is aimed at identifying COVID-19 infection in those without symptoms.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please self-isolate and call 119 in England and Wales, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to book a free diagnostic test. 

How long will it take to get results? 

Typically test results are available in the day of testing. If you haven’t received a result after 48 hours, please call 119 in England and Wales, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

What happens if my sample cannot be read?

If we can’t read the sample it means it’s not possible to say if you were infectious when the test was done.

You’ll need to take the same tests again as soon as possible. If this is the second time you’ve got this result, you’ll need to book a different test – follow the advice you were given when you were tested or go to www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

You only need to self-isolate if: 

  • you have or get symptoms of coronavirus – you’ll need to book a different test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test 
  • someone you live with tests positive, or has symptoms and has not been tested yet  
  • you’ve been traced as a contact of someone who tested positive  
  • the test you provide identifies you as being asymptomatic. 

Do people I live with have to self-isolate if I test positive?

Yes.

If you have a positive test result, your contacts will be traced by NHS Test and Trace. They will be required to self-isolate until 14 days after their most recent contact with you, unless they are participating in the specific trial of regular testing for contacts – in which case they will be given specific instructions on what they can and cannot do during this period.

If you have a positive antigen test but get a negative result on the PCR test, your contacts do not need to be traced.

If you have a negative or unclear (or “could not read sample”, “void”, “borderline” or “inconclusive”) result, your contacts do not need to be traced.

Will the test result affect my education?

If you return a positive test, it is essential to self-isolate for 10 days. Students are also required to follow university procedures. Please contact your personal tutor at the earliest opportunity. 

You will be able to take part in online education while self-isolating.