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Getting tested in Term Two

How to get tested for coronavirus in Term Two if you don’t have symptoms, as part of the national testing programme for universities.

The national testing programme for universities is only for students who are living or studying in London and who do not have symptoms of coronavirus, and for staff whose roles require them to work on campus and do not have coronavirus symptoms. If you do have symptoms, follow this step-by-step guide about how to request a test and let UCL know through Connect to Protect.

UCL has set up a testing centre as part of the national testing programme for universities. The centre uses rapid Lateral Flow Tests (LFT), which typically provide results within two hours. Testing is free and voluntary. Students who don't get tested should self-isolate for 10 days once they have arrived in London. 

If you are a student, you should take your first test as soon as possible within 24 hours after you arrive in London, and a second test three days later. Staff whose roles require them to work on campus are expected to take two tests each week. Taking two tests increases the likelihood that a positive infection is picked up as Lateral Flow Tests don’t detect every positive case, so you can be more confident when you’re returning to your accommodation and study spaces. Please remember that Lateral Flow Tests only reflect your status at the time of taking the test. You must keep following the safety guidelines to protect yourself and others, even if you test negative.

Lateral Flow Tests won’t be right for everyone, including anyone who needs to self-isolate on arrival in England after travelling overseas who may choose to take a private test as part of the Government’s new test to release scheme. You can find out more about the different types of tests available and which one you need in our testing guide.

Once you receive your results, whether positive or negative, please report them through Connect to Protect so UCL can provide you with support if you need to self-isolate, and can monitor and respond to cases at UCL.

Appointments available for Term Two

Appointments available weekdays 08.30am–3.00pm. See 'How to book your tests' for more information.

Book your coronavirus tests

Booking form privacy statement

The personal data you provide is being collected for the purpose of booking and managing your Asymptomatic COVID-19 Test. The information you provide will be used:

  • to record your booking and to send you text reminders of your appointment details
  • to send you text message reminders to record your test result in UCL’s Connect to Protect tool. Through Connect to Protect, we can provide you with further advice and support if this is required.
  • in relation to age and disability information, to manage your appointment and ensure the necessary support and adjustments are made 

The information you provide to book your test will only be shared with a restricted number of UCL staff members who require it as part of their role in managing the Asymptomatic testing service. The UCL staff who have access to your personal data will treat it in strict confidence. The personal data you provide will only be shared for the above purposes and will only be stored for as long as UCL requires it for these purposes, after which it will be deleted. 

For more information on the way UCL handles your personal data, as well as our legal basis for processing it and your rights as a data subject, please see the UCL Student privacy notice (in particular the section headed “Purposes for which we process your personal data > To manage the student experience at UCL and/or Internal and statutory reporting and other legal obligations”).

Please note that once you arrive for your appointment you will be required to register through the NHS registration system, where you will be allocated with a test and an NHS barcode. UCL does not have access to this system and will not process your personal data as part of that procedure. Once your test has been administered, your result will be automatically uploaded onto the NHS system. For more information on how the Department of Health and Social Care processes your personal data as part of that process, please see their privacy notice

Information about the national testing programme 

What is a Lateral Flow Test?

Lateral Flow Tests detect the presence or absence of coronavirus using a sample from your nose and throat. You will be asked to take the swab yourself at the testing centre, then a trained member of staff will process the sample for you.  

The tests are safe and managed by NHS Test and Trace. They are much faster that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) coronavirus tests that are usually provided by the NHS. You will typically receive your results from the NHS within two hours via text and email.

Lateral Flow Tests have already been piloted at a number of university sites, and the national testing programme for universities builds on what the Government has learned from these pilots. The tests have a sensitivity of 50-76.8% (compared to typically 95-99% for PCR tests), rising to over 95% for individuals with high viral loads, meaning that the majority of positive COVID-19 cases are detected, but not all. Therefore it is recommended that two tests are taken to increase the likelihood that the infection is detected.


How to book your tests 

Guidance for students

Please book your tests through this form. You will need to log in with your UCL ID and password, complete the form and select and appointment. You will receive an email confirming your appointment time. 

When you return to campus in Term Two, you should take your first test as soon as possible within 24 hours, and a second test three days later. Taking two tests increases the likelihood that a positive infection is picked up as Lateral Flow Tests don’t detect every positive case, so you can be more confident when you’re returning to your accommodation and study spaces. 

If you’re having problems booking your tests, please report the issue to IT Services.

Guidance for UCL and contracted staff working on campus

All UCL and all contracted staff within Estates and other services who are working on campus, and who do not have COVID-19 symptoms, are expected to get tested twice a week. Due to the rapid nature of these tests, please bear in mind where you will be when you receive your results. If you are a staff member it may be preferable to book a test at the end of your shift, so that you will receive your result when you are at home.

UCL staff can use their UCL UserID to book a test. Contracted staff who can access the LFT testing centre at Bidborough House should contact their line manager for more information.

Contracted staff who are working at UCL but unable to attend the Bidborough House LFT testing centre during opening hours (weekdays 08.30am–3.00pm) can collect a PCR home test from the North Lodge. If this applies to you, please speak to your line manager. 

If you have coronavirus symptoms you must not come to campus or the testing centre at Bidborough House, please follow these steps to request a test.

What should I do if I can’t book a test, or I can only book one? 

As the sensitivity of the tests has been found to be between 50-76.8% (compared to typically 95-99% for PCR tests), taking two tests will give greater reassurance.

Please try to book at least one test when you return for Term Two. If you can only take one test, please follow the steps listed above for what to do if your results are negative or positive. 

If you can't book a test then you need to self-isolate for 10 days once you have arrived in London.

Book your coronavirus test


Where to go for your tests

The testing centre is on the ground floor of Bidborough House at UCL. The address is: Bidborough House, 38-50 Bidborough Street, London, WC1H 9BT. Find Bidborough House on UCL Maps and Google Maps

Please access the building through the entrance on Bidborough Street. We are operating a one-way system and you will exit onto Mabledon Place.

Bidborough House is accessible for wheelchair users. If you have any additional access needs, such as a BSL interpreter, please contact UCL's Student Support and Wellbeing team via askUCL or call +44 (0)20 7679 0100 before you book your test so we can make sure you have the support you need.

If you need to travel to UCL, we encourage you to cycle or walk if you can. See our Cycle and Walk pages for more advice on getting to campus.

If you’re using public transport, read the advice for safer travel from the UK Government and Transport for London. You might want to consider travelling at off-peak times, using quieter stations and booking tickets in advance or paying by contactless if you can. 


What to expect at the testing centre 

Please wear a face covering and remember to follow social distancing guidelines at the testing centre. You will also be asked to wash your hands with sanitiser when you get there.

You should arrive at the testing centre via the entrance on Bidborough Street at your appointment time. Signage will direct you to where you need to go. You will be guided through the registration and testing process by members of the team. 

What to bring:
  • A form of student/staff ID
  • Your phone, tablet or laptop to register when you arrive (which involves scanning a QR code). If you do not have one of these then a staff member at the site will be on hand to help you.
    • Please do not register with an international phone number as this may be problematic when using the NHS Test and Trace service and delay your results. If you don't have a UK number then please register with your UCL email only, or alternatively you can request a free UK SIM card from the testing centre.   
  • A face covering or mask that covers your mouth and nose. Staff will tell you when you can take it off and put it back on again.

Please don't bring luggage or bulky items with you, as we do not have space to store it while you take your test.

What the process will involve: 
  • At registration, you will be asked to scan a QR code to register with the NHS Lateral Flow Testing programme.
  • You will be directed to an available booth where you will be provided with a swab and a barcode.
  • You will be asked to take a swab of your nose and throat. A trained member of staff will be on hand to help you.
  • A staff member will collect your sample and barcode from you.
  • You will then leave the testing centre through the exit onto Mabledon Place. 
Infographic: How the tests work

Infographic showing how LFT tests work

What happens when you get your results

You will typically receive the results from the NHS within two hours via email and text, but this could take up to 48 hours. If you do not receive your results, or you need advice on your result, please call the NHS coronavirus testing contact centre on 119. Lines are open from 7am to 11pm. Please note that you are not able to call NHS 119 from an international number. Quote the barcode reference number from the registration card that you were given when you took the test and NHS Test and Trace should be able to locate their result using this code. You should go for your second test as planned.

Whether you have tested negative or positive, it is important that you report your results to UCL through Connect to Protect. This will help us provide you with any support you need. 

If the results of your first test are negative: 

Please book a second test through this form. The second test should be taken three days after your first test. 

If the results of your first or second test are positive and you are a student: 

If you test positive you will be asked to request a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) coronavirus test to confirm your results through the NHS. If that confirms you are positive you will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days.

You will then be asked to complete contact tracing details on the NHS website or by telephone. It is also essential that you report your results through Connect to Protect so UCL can provide you with support while you’re self-isolating.

More information about self-isolating is available on the NHS website

The science behind self-isolating if you have coronavirus

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/aDJFcG2I

If the results of your first or second test are positive and you are a member of staff: 
  1. You must immediately report your positive test results to your line manager and report this through Connect to Protect at the earliest opportunity.
  2. If you receive your test result while in the workplace please make arrangements to travel home avoiding other people and public transport if you can. If you need help with your travel arrangements please discuss this with your line manager. If you do use public transport, wear a face covering, stay 2 metres apart from other people and avoid touching any surfaces. Use hand gel frequently throughout the journey and where possible avoid busier stations. Avoid touching your face or adjusting your face mask. Read more about travelling safely.
  3. If the line manager or any work colleagues are concerned they are a potential contact and are not symptomatic they should book an LFT appointment. If there are any issues with availability they should contact the Connect to Protect team by email to uclcovidtesting@ucl.ac.uk to request a priority appointment.
  4. You should arrange for a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) coronavirus test through the NHS Test and Trace to confirm your LFT results.  You should request a test kit to be sent to you rather than going to a walk/drive in centre.  NHS Test and Trace will contact you with your PCR result. You and your household should self-isolate according to Government guidelines until this test result is known. 
  5. If the PCR test confirms your positive LFT test, in line with NHS guidance you and everyone in your household should continue to self-isolate for 10 days. Please note that your self-isolation period starts from the date after you first developed symptoms or if asymptomatic from the date after your PCR test. You and your household do not need to continue to self-isolate if the PCR confirms a negative test result.
  6. You will then be asked to complete contact tracing details on the NHS website or by telephone. It is also essential that you report your PCR test result through Connect to Protect so UCL can provide you with support while you’re self-isolating and follow up with any UCL contacts.
  7. If you have any questions please email uclcovidtesting@ucl.ac.uk or call the UCL Covid Helpline on 0203 108 5699. Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. Please let us know when you have recovered if you develop symptoms and do stay in touch if you need any help.
If the results of both your first and second test are negative: 

You are highly unlikely to have COVID-19 at the time of taking the tests. If you have not been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive (e.g. someone you live with) then you can continue as normal according to current Tier restrictions. 

Please remember that Lateral Flow Tests don’t detect every positive case and your results only reflect your status at the time of taking the test. You must keep following the safety guidelines to help keep everyone safe on campus. 

Do I need to self-isolate between the two tests? 

No, not if the results of your first test were negative, but please note that a negative result only reflects your status at the time of taking the test. Please ensure you follow social distancing between tests. 

Do I have to take a test?

No, the scheme is voluntary but you are encouraged to take part.

If you don't take a test then you should self-isolate for 10 days once you have arrived in London.

If you need support

Students can contact us though the askUCL student enquiries system. Alternatively you can email covidhelpline@ucl.ac.uk and if you would like to speak to someone on the phone, please call our helpline on 0203 108 5699. Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

If you are staying in UCL halls, our Accommodation team can help. Find out more on the UCL Accommodation website or email or phone your hall team.