The creative countdown has begun. An update from HCA Principal Abigail Appleton.
4 September 2020
We’re delighted to be welcoming students back to campus for the new academic year. The college has put in place many new measures to enable us to operate safely. We are asking all students and staff to help look after each other and others by following new guidelines. Here you can find the HCA COVID Code Handbook and latest Risk Assessment.
We have been working through these summer weeks to put in place appropriate measures to help keep students, staff, visitors and our local community safe, including enhanced hygiene facilities, expanded and re-organised space, one way systems, PPE for certain activities and revised timetabling. You can find more information in the FAQs below, but if you have any questions big or small, please do not hesitate to contact us through email@example.com or use the chatbox on the website.
Our focus is on providing face to face campus-based teaching complemented by digital sessions, what is now known as a ‘blended’ experience. While campus learning in workshops and studios is a key feature of the HCA experience, we recognise that our current students have welcomed some of the new online learning sessions introduced during the lockdown. We expect to add these to the range of learning experiences offered to students well beyond lockdown.
2020 Final Year degree cohort
From August 25 we welcomed back some of this year’s final year degree students for a three-week burst of creativity. When we had to go into deep lockdown earlier in the year, we listened to their intense concerns about missing their final year making. So instead of requiring all our final year students to complete online, we gave them the option, subject to public health guidance, to return to campus to complete their final degree modules, creating in our studios and workshops. In doing this, we are doing our very best to bring our students’ degree journeys to as satisfying a conclusion as possible.
We look forward to exhibiting their final year degree work online and in physical exhibitions through the autumn. I am proud of all the staff and students’ aspiration and tenacity, for their going the extra mile to make this possible.
From September 21st we will start enrolling our new degree students. Our SU and student experience staff are making plans to ensure you can still have a great extra-curricular and social experience whatever Covid-19 precautions we need to take. It would be foolish of us to promise everything will be the same as previous years, but we can promise you there will be lots of ways to have fun and make new friends in a safe environment.
We are immensely proud of students’ creativity and resilience, you can see examples of their work on our social media accounts and through our online exhibition of work in progress from all our year groups student showcase.
We hope that during this uncertain time we can find strength in local community, find strategies to safely support one another and commit to maintaining a sense of wellbeing through creative means.
Please follow all guidelines to keep yourself and others safe. You are not facing this alone, Hereford College of Arts is here for you, and as any creative community we will support each other through this challenging time for all.
Sharing Student Space
Student Minds has published a Student Space Digital Communications pack, which you can access here. This also includes a dropbox folder containing signposting information, social media images and videos to help promote Student Space.
Weekly message from HCA Principal Abigail Appleton
HE Students - Start of term
What will the start of term look like for University level students?
We are all very much looking forward to the full resumption of the campus-based learning that is so very special in HCA. As we cannot be sure of the course of the pandemic, we are preparing for different scenarios which we have outlined here.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) - Applicants
Will I still be able to start my course in September?
Yes we are planning to start the academic year at the usual time, you can check our term and semester dates for both post GCSE courses our degree programmes here. Campus based teaching remains at the heart of our teaching and learning ethos but the pandemic has proved the importance of learning to switch between digital and face to face activity in the creative industries as well as in education. We will continue to update you as our plans develop.
Will my application to the UK Student Loans Company be affected by the outbreak?
No, UK and EU applicants to courses starting in September 2020 can apply for Student Finance as normal. More information can be found on our international students page.
I am considering making an application for 2020 entry but have not submitted it yet, are you still considering applications?
Yes, students often apply late depending on their individual circumstances. it is very easy to make a new application and it is entirely understandable that this year many students are making later applications due to the disruption of the year. We welcome applications from mature students who have been out of formal education for a whiles as well as those applying from college and school. Your application process will depend on whether your chosen course is at College level (Diploma, Extended Diploma, Foundation or Portfolio) or University Level (Foundation Degree, BA (Hons) or Masters. You’ll find lots of information here to help you with your application.
Can I defer my offer to 2021 entry?
We strongly recommend you keep up your creative momentum, don’t let COVID-19 put your life on hold and join us this September. However, if you wish to discuss deferral please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Why is 2020 a good time to start a degree?
We believe now is the ideal time to start your degree, there is so much uncertainty within the jobs market and so much emphasis on higher skills, in particular creativity. You can give yourself certainty, move forward and prepare yourself to join the economy when things are more settled.
My course requires and interview, will this still take place?
Yes, our interviews have moved online and we work with you to identify the best method of communication that suits your individual preference and circumstances. Our friendly staff work with you to ensure everything is in place to make it easy for you and you can feel as confident as possible ahead of your interview.
Do I have to submit a digital portfolio of work?
If you have a digital portfolio we’d like to see it but if not we can still talk to you about your work and you can show us examples in other simple ways. Most importantly, we are interested in getting to know you and finding out where you are in your creative journey.
I have not attended an open day, how can I find out more about the College?
At HCA you can find your place in an inspiring art school community; while our expert staff, studios and workshops support your individual journey. To find out more we suggest you visit our HCA Virtual Experience page, where you can download a prospectus, hear from our Principal, watch videos and read stories from our students on their experiences. If you feel a one to one conversation would be useful, you can also contract the outreach team via email: email@example.com
How do I access virtual open days?
Our open days page lists all our up and coming events. We offer Virtual Open Days and Drop Ins and staff are easily contactable via our online ChatBox to help you with any queries you may have. If you register in advance we will also send you a reminder about the event nearer the time.
Where can I find more information about accommodation and should I still book now?
Yes, we suggest you book your accommodation as soon as possible. Station Approach is new, purpose-built accommodation for Hereford College of Arts students in the heart of the City, within easy walking distance of the HCA’s teaching campuses. The accommodation has been specially designed for the college, and HCA staff and students have been involved with the design concepts and the decision-making around how the building will operate as a homely, creative hub. You can find out more and how to book your place in our student housing section.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) - Continuing students
I have a specific question about my course, who should I contact?
Please contact the College via firstname.lastname@example.org stating your course and a brief outline of your question. Staff will be able to get you in touch with your Course Leader or the appropriate member of staff, depending on your question.
Is the degree show going ahead?
The degree show has been postponed and will be held in a new format during the 2020/21 academic year. Meanwhile we are celebrating and promoting student work from across the college via our online Glimpse exhibition.
Is the graduation ceremony being cancelled?
No, we know how important Graduation is to our students and as staff we enjoy celebrating both your creativity and academic achievement too. We are in the process of confirming a new date to celebrate and we will let you know as soon as we can. In the meantime if you have a query please contact the Graduation Team via email: Graduation@hca.ac.uk
I have accommodation related questions, who can I contact?
You can contact the College’s Housing Team for general advice and guidance. They can also help you find out more about our new Halls of Residence if you are progressing from a College to Degree Level course at Hereford College of Arts and interested in student accommodation.
Travelling to College
Transport for Wales are putting on a number of buses to help ease the issue of reduced number of spaces available on the train lines coming into Hereford due to social distancing. The buses are being provided for students and staff who are unable to catch relevant trains due to them being full. The buses will be on standby from 7am but they will only leave when they are at capacity. Students will be dropped off at Hereford Railway Station.
Please remember to always wear a face covering unless you are medically exempt when travelling on the train or bus.
The timetable is as follows:
Morning peak to Hereford from the south
3 x Road Transport on standby at Cwmbran from 07:00
1 x Road Transport on standby at Pontypool from 07:00
4 x Road Transport on standby at Abergavenny from 07:00
Morning peak to Hereford from the north
1 x Road Transport on standby at Church Stretton from 07:00
1 x Road Transport on standby at Craven Arms from 07:00
3 x Road Transport on standby at Ludlow from 07:00
3 x Road Transport on standby at Leominster from 07:00
Afternoon peak from Hereford to travel both North and South (remaining flexible on capacity so staff on the ground can manage despatch in each direction)
4 x Road Transport on standby at Hereford from 13:00
4 x Road Transport on standby at Hereford from 14:00
4 x Road Transport on standby at Hereford from 15:00
4 x Road Transport on standby at Hereford from 16:00
On Tuesday 24 March, the Home Office updated their visa guidance to provide greater certainty for international higher education students and staff in the UK currently unable to return home due to COVID-19. This covers three main issues: extensions, in-country visa switching and distance learning.
No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to expire, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future.
Anyone whose leave expired after 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation will have their visas extended to 31 May 2020. Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation.
In-country visa switching
Individuals (students or staff) who cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation and wish to stay in the UK long-term would ordinarily need to apply for a visa from their home country. Where individuals would normally be required to return to their country of residence to apply for a visa in a different category, they’ll now be able to apply from the UK to switch.
Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to the existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances.
New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.
New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.
Further information from the Home Office
Full details covering the above visa issues can be found at the following link:
The Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Helpline remains open: 0800 678 1767 (open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm – calls are free of charge if made form within the UK). The Home Office asks that customers check gov.uk first as that us the central source if the information, but if individuals remain concerned about their immigration status they can contact CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.