When is Freshers Week 2021? What happens on week before university term starts - and dates for UK universities

Students across the UK - from Glasgow to Leeds and Exeter - are preparing for a week of introductory events and parties

Freshers week is one of the most exciting parts of being a new student at university, with the chance to meet new people, attend a bunch of events and, of course, nab some freebies at the Freshers Fair.

This is everything you need to know.

What is freshers week?

Freshers week is the welcome period at the beginning of university, aimed at helping new students meet new people, make some friends and learn more about the university and its various clubs.

Usually there are special nights at nightclubs and such for freshers week, and different events at the university as well. The freshers Fair (or Fayre) will also allow students to get to know about all the different societies, as well as the opportunity to bag some freebies as well.

For some universities, freshers week is kept to just a week, but others can spread out events over the course of a few weeks.

As Covid-19 restrictions vary across the UK, some students will likely see their freshers week in a virtual capacity.

You can find out more about the events going on at your university on your university’s website.

When does freshers week begin - and when do students start university?

Across the UK, the dates of freshers week and university start dates will differ - you can find out more information about freshers week on your chosen university’s website.

Some universities, especially in Scotland, will have already had their freshers, whereas some, especially in England, are still to go.

These are the freshers week 2021 dates for just some of the universities across the UK:

  • University of Exeter - Monday 13 September to Sunday 19 September
  • Edinburgh University - Monday 13 September to Sunday 19 September
  • Imperial College London - Monday 20 September to Friday 8 October
  • University of Birmingham - Saturday 18 September to Monday 27 September
  • University of Glasgow - Monday 13 September to Friday 17 September
  • University of Bath - Sunday 19 September to Sunday 26 September
  • University of Strathclyde - Saturday 11 September to Saturday 18 September
  • University of Bristol - Sunday 19 September to Sunday 26 September 
  • Oxford University - Monday 20 September to Friday 8 October
  • Robert Gordon University - Saturday 11 September to Saturday 19 September
  • Manchester Metropolitan University - Monday 13 September to Monday 20 September

What are the Covid-19 guidelines for universities in the UK?

As Covid-19 regulations vary around the UK, universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be adhering to different guidelines.


In England, virtually all Covid-19 regulations were lifted earlier this year, and the Government website states: “There are no longer restrictions on the approach to teaching and learning in higher education providers as a result of COVID-19.

“There is no requirement for social distancing or other measures within in person teaching. Providers are therefore able to shape their courses without restrictions to face-to-face provision.”

Higher education providers are autonomous institutions, which means they can put into place their own plans, in line with relevant government guidance.

You can find out more on the Government website. 


Scotland has continued to enforce a number of Covid-19 protections.

By law, everyone must wear a face covering in certain indoor public places, including colleges and universities. Since colleges and universities fall under the definition of a workplace, it is a legal requirement for people to wear a face covering in all indoor communal areas.

Universities must also, by law, ensure an adequate supply of fresh air and effective fresh air ventilation.

The Scottish government website states: “Universities and Colleges are expected to continue taking all reasonable steps to protect staff, outsourced workers, students, visitors and others from coronavirus.

“By law, institutions will continue to undertake appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment work, and involve trade unions and student bodies in such work.”

You can find out more on the Scottish government website. 


In Wales, face coverings are no longer required in classrooms for staff or students, however colleges and training providers may encourage the use of face coverings in areas where there is likely to be social mixing, like communal areas.

The Welsh government states that at level zero, learning providers must:

  • Take reasonable measures to protect learners, staff and others from COVID-19 within their premises
  • Ensure risk assessments satisfy the requirements of regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety in the Workplace Regulations 1999
  • Continue to carry out specific coronavirus risk assessments for their buildings and activities, building on their learning to date and practices they have already developed during the pandemic
  • Follow any relevant workplace guidance, where they are operating facilities such as training salons, restaurants or gyms
  • Follow the local testing and infection control framework, taking account of local risk levels and advice from local IMTs

You can find out more on the Welsh government website. 

Northern Ireland

Further Education colleges in Northern Ireland are able to return to face to face teaching for all learners, but colleges must adhere to all relevant government-issues industry and workplace restrictions and guidance.

To find out more about the latest updates to Belfast Metropolitan College, Northern Regional College, North West Regional College, South Eastern Regional College, Southern Regional College, South West College, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, Stranmillis University College and St Mary’s University College Belfast, you can do so on the Northern Ireland government website. 

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