prism practical

Covid-19 FAQs

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the world, we understand that this is a time of considerable worry and challenge for us all.

This page is designed to provide information on the steps that our colleges are taking to  support our students and their families at this time.

At present, there have been no confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in any of our colleges.  The health and well-being of students and staff remains our number one priority.

Online learning and Pastoral Care

Q. When did the colleges stop face-to-face learning?

A. The British Government closed all UK schools and colleges from Friday 20th March ‘until further notice’. All three colleges suspended face-to-face learning at the end of the school day on Friday 20th March, and began to teach students wholly online from Monday 23rd March 2020. Prior to the school closure announcement our colleges had already begun preparing to continue lesson provision and support students remotely in the event of school closures, with many classes transitioning to online learning before the 20th March.

Q. How does online learning work?

A. Our colleges are using a blend of online learning platforms, video calls, and email to continue to deliver high quality lessons and tutorial support. Lessons will continue to the established timetables, and all students are expected to attend as usual and complete work and assignments set. Where students have difficulty attending lessons due to time zone differences, lessons will be recorded to allow them to view at their convenience. Students have continued to receive homework at the end of each class, and this will be marked and feedback delivered electronically.

Q. Is online learning going well?

A. Our teachers have been giving a lot of thought to how to deliver a comprehensive online education for our students. It has certainly been an adjustment, but online learning has been remarkably successful so far in all three colleges. All students have been set up on our online learning platforms and are now following a daily timetable of classes with their teachers. Teachers have adapted classes to the online environment, and have shown real creativity in developing stimulating and engaging online activities.

Q. Does online learning affect students’ record of attendance or Tier 4 Visa?

A. No, providing students continue to engage with their online learning programme, maintain communications with their tutors, and complete assignments set.

We are in constant communication with the UKVI and  have authorised all physical absences for students. The UKVI have also confirmed that sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these exceptional circumstances, even if a student will be unable to physically attend college for more than 60 days. Police registration procedures have also been suspended. Please note that when a student’s visa expires, s/he will have to apply for a new visa to re-enter the UK.

Q. What is happening to international boarding students who have not been able to return home?

A. These students will be able to remain within our college boarding houses supported by our boarding and pastoral teams. They will engage with learning online in the same manner as students who have returned to their home countries.


Progression, Examinations an University

Q. What happens to students midway through their course? or who are hoping to progress to the next level in September?

A. We expect that all students currently in Year 10 GCSE or Year 12 A-Level or Foundation classes will be ready to move onto the second year of GCSE, A-Level or Foundation from September 2020, and therefore complete their programmes on time by June 2021.

Year 11 and 1 year GCSE students will receive unconditional entry to year 12 in September 2020.

We are looking forward to welcoming them again at the start of term in September 2020. If travel restrictions are still in place at the start of term, a later start of term may be decided and extra classes added to the timetable. We will inform you of this in due course.

Q. Will GCSE and A-Level exams still take place?

A. The UK Government has announced that GCSE and A-Level summer exams have been cancelled.

Final GCSE and A-Level awards will now be based on calculated grades. The government has announced that the calculated grade process will take into account a range of evidence including non-exam assessment and mock results. We are still awaiting guidance from Ofqual and the examinations boards on exactly how this process will work. It is important that students continue to attend their lessons, engage with tutors and complete assignments and homework.

See the UK Government website for the latest exam guidance.

Q. Will International Foundation Programme exams still take place?

A. In our Cambridge and London colleges mock exams after Easter will be sat in college or in students’ home country. We will make plans for each student to sit with their agent (most of whom have facilities for testing), or in other institutions (such as British Council offices) or through other means. We will contact each student about their particular situation closer to the time.

Foundation exams at the end of this term will be sat in the same way. That is, if students have returned home they will sit Foundation exams in their country. We have had confirmation from our accreditation body that this is permissible and will not affect students university offers.

Our Manchester college has made a decision not to run the Unit 2 Foundation Easter exams and instead will use mock marks, assignment marks and teacher feedback to determine scores. For the unit 3 they will set on-line assignments and assessments to generate the final scores.

Q.How will universities consider applications for September 2020 in the absence of A-Levels?

A. We await further guidance on 2020 university admissions is awaited from the UK government. Our colleges are in communication with universities and will provide regular updates to our students as they are received.

New students

Q. Are you still accepting applications for September 2020 enrolment?

A. Yes, all three of our colleges are still accepting applications for September 2020 start courses. You can apply here.

Q. Is the application process affected?

A. Our application process remains unaffected. You will be able to make applications directly to our colleges or through an agent or counsellor. We will ask you to submit relevant documents electronically, and our college teams will still conduct admissions interviews via Skype, WeChat or over the phone. Applicants needing to take our English Language test can do so online. We will issue offers of study to successful candidates.

Q. Can I visit the colleges?

A. Due to the coronavirus situation, the UK Government closed all UK schools and colleges from Friday 20th March. This means that all three of our colleges are currently closed to visitors, and that you will not be able to visit them in person until further notice. Each college website contains images and videos to enable you to experience the college environment and learn about student life. We are also happy to arrange online conversations with college staff on request.

As stated in the answer to the previous questions, all admissions interviews will take place online or via telephone until further notice.

Q. I have already accepted my place for September, is this still valid?

A. Yes, at the moment we plan for all colleges to be open as normal to accept both new and returning students for the start of the 2020/21 academic year.

Q. I have an offer to study in September, is this still valid?

A. Yes, for the same reasons as stated in the response to the previous question.

Q. What happens if I cannot start my course in September 2020?

A. You will be given the option to defer your studies to the next available start date.

Q. I have an offer, or have accepted a place to join a course starting in April, is this still valid?

A. Due to the UK Government decision to close all UK schools and colleges from Friday 20th March until further notice, we anticipate that students will now not be able to join us for their April start course. Where possible, the college will offer you the option of deferring your studies to the next enrolment point (September 2020).

Q. What happens to my deposit if I have to withdraw due to coronavirus?

A. Deposits paid for enrolment in September 2020 will be refunded in full in the event of coronavirus related travel restrictions being in place at the start of term, either in the UK or in the student’s home country. In the event of travel restrictions, our Colleges reserve the right to delay the start of term, or begin the term virtually, until travel restrictions are lifted. Students will therefore have the choice to enrol late, enrol virtually, or to withdraw the acceptance, with the deposit becoming fully refundable in this circumstance.

Abbey Group of Colleges


Click here for the latest guidance