Department for Education Tiers

As of Thursday 5 November the UK is under national lockdown restrictions. Some of the information on this page is therefore not applicable in the current situation.

We expect that after this lockdown finishes on Wednesday 2 December we will revert to the local area Level system, with York in Level 2. We also expect that the University will continue until further notice to operate at DfE Tier 2 for teaching and learning when the Spring Term starts on Monday 11 January 2021.

We are in DfE Tier 2

The Department for Education (DfE) Tiers are not the same as the Government's COVID alert levels 1 to 3, but if the COVID alert level changes locally, we will also review our current DfE Tier. We work with local authorities to assess the current situation and to decide what Tier we should be operating at. If we need to change tier, notification of this along with details of what this means in practical terms will be sent to all students and staff.

  • We moved to DfE Tier 2 officially on Monday 2 November.

What does DfE Tier 2 mean for teaching and learning?

The proportion of online learning in most programmes has increased. Face-to-face teaching is mainly focused on those learning activities that require students to be in the same room as each other, or to conduct practical learning - for example in laboratories and performance spaces.

We know from student feedback that the majority of you have a preference for a blend of online and face-to-face teaching. For this reason we are committed to giving all students here in York the option of regular face-to-face learning opportunities.

Your Department will be able to help you with any questions you may about the detail of arrangements.

What does DfE Tier 2 mean for campus accommodation and facilities?

Our campus and student accommodation remain open.

You can still access facilities including the Library buildings and other study spaces, the campus supermarkets, and cafes and restaurants. There may be some changes to the services that they offer - details will be available on their websites.

Bookable study spaces on campus will be increased; you can already book space in the Library, King’s Manor, the Library@Piazza and Heslington Hall - we're adding further spaces in the Spring Lane Building on Campus West, and the Piazza Building on Campus East.

What does DfE Tier 2 mean for sports and social activities?

Social and sporting activities are a vital part of the University experience and contribute to your overall wellbeing. With this in mind, sporting and social activities will continue, within the health and safety requirements of the Government’s Level 2 restrictions.

Outdoor social spaces such as the Forest will continue to operate, and indoor venues will remain open but subject to new rules; YUSU have provided details of how their venues will operate under Tier 2.

The YUSU events team are already offering activities like quizzes that take place in their venues and online simultaneously, and are planning to launch more online activities for all students. YUSU's societies are staying active too, and you can still sign up to any that interest you.

The GSA's postgraduate community is built around an active set of networks, each offering regular events that you can join. GSA also offer opportunities to take part in free sporting activities - in person and online.

We want to support you to continue enjoying and benefiting from safe social and face-to-face interactions, so we're working hard with YUSU and GSA to explore additional ways for you to engage with other students, whether you're living on campus, in the city or elsewhere. Keep an eye on the YUSU and GSA websites and social media for updates.

What does DfE Tier 2 mean to students who are studying remotely?

If you're studying with us but you're currently unable to join us on campus, you may find that you get to meet more students from your cohort as they join your virtual teaching sessions.

You may also see more opportunities to join in with YUSU and GSA social activities through their digital platforms. Please look out for news of events and activities that you can join. You are important to our community at York, so we want to get to know you. We look forward very much to welcoming you to our campus and our city as soon as you are able to join us. Please continue to make your travel plans - York remains a safe and welcoming place for all students.

A summary of DfE Tiers 1-4

Tier 1 (default position)

HE providers are expected to provide blended learning with face-to-face tuition while following the provisions of this, and public health guidance (for example, the appropriate use of face coverings).

Tier 2 (fallback position)

HE providers should move to an increased level of online learning where possible. Providers should prioritise the continuation of face-to-face provision based on their own risk assessment. We expect that, in the majority of cases, this will be for those courses where it is most beneficial (for example, clinical or practical learning and research).

Tier 3 (where stricter measures are needed)

HE providers should increase the level of online learning to retain face-to-face provision for priority courses (for example, clinical and medical courses), and in as limited a number of situations as possible.

Students should follow government guidance published as part of any additional restrictions applied locally, including where this says that students should remain in their current accommodation and not return to their family home or other residential accommodation to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus through travel. In these circumstances, providers should support students to do so by keeping services for students, such as university libraries and catering facilities, open.

Tier 4 (last resort)

We expect the majority of provision to be online, with buildings open only for essential workers and students who are required to attend because in-person teaching is essential. This should include the continuation of essential research.

Further information

The information on this page relates to all departments and programmes of learning, so it is quite general. For more specific information, please contact your department.

If you have any concerns about your own wellbeing, or someone else's, please contact our Student Hub team for advice.