Guidance on travelling home at the end of term

The government published guidance on Wednesday 11 November for students to travel home at the end of the term should they wish to once  the national restrictions end  on 2 December.


Student travel window

In order to travel home safely, students are required to follow the current national restrictions until 2 December, completing the remainder of this period in term-time accommodation.

From 3 December to 9 December, known as the student travel window, students will be able to travel home, ideally on staggered departure dates. This excludes students who have tested positive or have been asked to self-isolate by the NHS test and trace system.

There are exemptions for healthcare students, for example medical students on clinical placements, around returning home at the end of term, as these students are classed as essential workers. Medical students should seek further guidance from the Medical School before travelling.

We also accept that while many students will want to travel during the 3–9 December travel window, those with part-time jobs or who have other specific circumstances may not be able to. In such cases students will need to follow the latest government guidance.

Government guidance on students returning home

Share your travel plans with us

In order to help us support you, whether you leave Sheffield or remain for the festive period, please complete our brief questionnaire.

Tell us your travel plans

Travel guidance

To protect yourself and your loved ones, you need to continue to follow the rules ahead of any plans to travel for the festive period. 

If you are currently living in Sheffield, we recommend that you book a free test at our Covid-19 Testing Centre, as close to your date of departure as possible, to help reduce risk to yourself and others. 

Avoid social contact as much as possible with other people before you travel.

If you have symptoms

If you have symptoms, do not travel. Self-isolate for 10 days, book a test through the NHS website and inform the University. 

What to do if you have symptoms

Travelling by car

If you’re travelling by car, only travel with members of your current household or the household you are going to join. (Your household includes people you share a kitchen or bathroom with.)

Travelling by public transport

If you’re travelling by public transport: 

  • Plan your journey to allow yourself plenty of time to allow for any delays due to social distancing measures. 
  • Remember to always wear a face covering and follow social distancing guidelines
  • You should limit your luggage where possible and only take what you need with you.  

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that students who had already booked train tickets to travel home for Christmas before the announcement of the student travel window can now rebook their tickets to travel between 3 to 9 December without paying additional fees.

If you purchased an Advance ticket before 11 November for a date of travel after 9 December, you can now change your Advance ticket to travel during the window without paying a change of journey fee of up to £10. 

Flexible tickets such as Off Peak or Anytime can already be rebooked to another date without payment of an admin fee. 

If you live with someone who tests positive and you have received a negative test result at our Covid-19 Testing Centre

If you live with someone who tests positive, or you're identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive, you may still leave Sheffield if you have received a negative test result at our Covid-19 Testing Centre. You must self-isolate for 14 days at your new residence. You should travel by private car wherever possible, with people from your current household, or your new household (your household includes people you share a kitchen or bathroom with). If you test positive or develop any Covid-19 symptoms, do not travel. 

    Our Covid-19 Testing Centre

    We have worked closely with public health experts to open a Covid-19 rapid testing facility for our students. The test centre is available on a voluntary basis if you're a University of Sheffield student living in Sheffield with no Covid-19 symptoms. 

    How the travel window affects teaching

    To allow the travel window to take place, the government has instructed that face-to-face teaching for the winter term should finish at all universities by 9 December. This means that all teaching from that point onwards, until the end of term on 18 December, will be online. We will provide further details about this as soon as possible. 

    Student support over the holiday period

    We’re continuing to provide support for those who choose to remain in Sheffield over the holiday period.

    • The University Library will remain open from 9am to 5pm everyday over the Christmas break, except bank holidays and weekends.
    • The University Health Service will be open from 8.45am to 5pm except bank holidays and weekends.
    • For students staying in University residencies, a series of daily activities will be available throughout the Christmas break.

    All our student support services are available online to help with any questions students may have.

    Returning after the holiday break

    We are aware of the importance of face-to-face social and physical activities on campus. We're planning a programme of activities for January that will allow peer-to-peer interactions within Covid-19 guidelines.

    We're waiting for further government guidance about students returning to University after visiting family over the Christmas break and will provide more details soon. 

    Current lockdown rules

    Students should remember to follow the national restrictions that are now in place.

    Support – get in touch

    Our extensive range of support services for students and staff are all available online.