Check the arrangements for getting Covid-19 tests.
Why testing is important
Take a lateral flow test if you do not have Covid-19 symptoms and even if you have been vaccinated.
Lateral flow device (LFD) tests are designed to detect the level of virus in people who do not show any symptoms but could still pass the virus to others. This helps protect everyone and minimises the spread of Covid-19.
Important: Take a test before you travel back to university. Do this the night or morning before you leave to check you haven’t got Covid-19.
Once you’ve resumed your studies, we strongly encourage you to take two LFD tests a week to protect everyone in the community.
Testing twice a week increases effectiveness because tests can miss positive results in the early stages of an infection.
If you are identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19, you can take a LFD test every day for seven days while continuing as normal, as long as you:
- are fully vaccinated, or
- younger than 18 years 6 months, or
- medically unable to get vaccinated.
You only need to isolate if you test positive.
Travelling from overseas
If you are travelling to Sussex from another country, you must follow government test and quarantine rules.
If you have cold or flu symptoms
Respect the community and avoid spreading illnesses. Don’t meet anyone in-person until you have taken a LFD test and received a negative test result for Covid-19.
If you think you might have Coronavirus, check what to do if you have symptoms.
You can receive LFD tests in these ways.
Order tests online
You can get a pack of seven rapid tests sent to your home and report your results afterwards. Order rapid lateral flow home test kits.
Collect tests on campus to do at home
You can collect a free pack of seven rapid LFD tests from the following places on campus:
- Arts A (Media, Arts and Humanities reception)
- Arts Piazza café
- Chichester I – Engineering and Informatics reception
- East Slope reception
- Essex House – Education and Social Work reception
- Falmer Sports Complex (top of the hill)
- Freeman – Law, Politics and Sociology reception
- John Maynard Smith – Life Sciences reception
- Jubilee – Business School reception
- Library reception
- Northfield bar
- Pevensey I – Psychology reception (top floor)
- Pevensey II – Mathematical and Physical Sciences reception
- Sport Centre (near main road)
- Students’ Union, Falmer House
- Sussex House reception
- York House porter’s lodge.
These are available during normal opening hours. Download a map of campus. Bring your phone so you can scan a QR code and fill in your contact details.
Alternatively, you can collect up to two packs of LFD tests from a local pharmacy – including the University Pharmacy on campus.
Go to a test site off campus
Find where to get a rapid lateral flow test off campus.
You get a result 30 minutes after taking each LFD test. Report both negative and positive test results to the NHS.
If you get a negative test result, you should carry on following government and University guidance to help minimise the spread of Covid-19.
- wear a mask in confined spaces, unless you are exempt
- wash or sanitise your hands regularly, especially before and after moving between rooms and buildings
- keep a social distance from others where possible.
If you have already had Covid-19
If you have recently (within 90 days) tested positive for Covid-19, you are likely to have developed some immunity so a repeat LFD test is unlikely to be necessary within this period. If, having recently tested positive for Covid-19, you choose to have an LFD test, make sure the LFD test is not taken while you are still within your period of isolation following the last confirmed test. If symptoms persist, this could be longer than the normal 10-day self-isolation period for confirmed cases. See stay-at-home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus cases.
See detailed answers on:
Different types of test, accuracy and getting it done:
How many different types of tests are there and what’s the difference?
Two main types of test are used to check if people have Coronavirus. The first type of test is known as a PCR test, and looks for the virus’s genetic material (Ribonucleic acid, or RNA). These tests are currently more commonly used in the NHS for symptomatic testing. They are processed in a laboratory. The second type of test is a lateral flow (LFD) test, which detects the Coronavirus antigen that is produced when a person is infectious. These are quicker tests, which produce a result within 30 minutes and do not require a laboratory to be processed. This is the test we are offering on campus.
How accurate are these tests?
The LFD tests have a high specificity, which means there is a very low chance of false-positive test results. The test does not detect all positive cases, however, and works best in cases with higher viral loads – i.e. those who are most infectious. As the test is easy to administer and does not require a laboratory, repeat tests can be carried out. The benefit will be the ability to detect a significant number of people without symptoms who are infectious; they will then be asked to self-isolate, which will reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
Do I have to take a lateral flow test?
The Covid-19 lateral flow tests are not compulsory, but we strongly encourage all students who need to be on campus to take regular lateral flow tests to help minimise the spread of Covid-19 and protect everyone in our community.
Do I have to take Covid-19 tests if I want to use the Library?
We really encourage students who wish to use the Library and other University facilities to take a lateral flow test and get a negative result before using Sussex facilities.
This test involves me swabbing my nose and throat – I’m not able to do this, so how can I be tested?
If you think you will struggle to swab your tonsils and nose for any reason, you may bring a trusted close contact from your support bubble who can do the swabbing for you. Test centre staff are not able to swab you. If both of your nostrils are obstructed and you are unable to swab your nose, it will not be possible for you to be tested at this centre.
How sensitive are the lateral flow tests being used?
Lateral flow devices (LFDs) are less sensitive to Covid-19 infections during the initial stages of an infection when compared to PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests – the type that symptomatic people get through the NHS. For LFD tests to be effective you should take more than one. You should take three tests at our test centre on campus (three or four days apart) and then be tested twice a week, either using home test kits or at the test centre. Regular testing should be carried out every 3-5 days and the highest recommended frequency is one test every three days. Mass testing using LFDs is only one measure to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Right now, the best ways to keep our community, family and friends safe are social distancing, face-coverings and self-isolating if necessary. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the mass testing facility while it is offered – but its availability does not mean that other precautions can be ignored or relaxed.
Getting results and what they mean:
How will I get my test results?
If you took your test at a test centre, you will receive a message with your results by text or email, depending on which details you provide when you register.
How long does it take to get results?
In most cases, LFD results will be communicated within a day of the test – most likely within a few hours. If you have not received your result after 48 hours, please take another LFD test.
Who else has access to my results?
On arrival at your test appointment, you will be provided with a test kit and card and asked to register. The University will not have access to any of your registration data. You will be notified of your test result via SMS or to the email you provide when you register. The University will not see your test results. Your personal information relating to test registration and results is processed by NHS Test and Trace. A copy of your result will be sent to your GP. If you have tested positive, a notification will be sent to Public Health England.
What happens if my test result is negative?
If you’re taking tests at home, it is important to report negative test results to the NHS.
If the test result is negative, you can go about your daily life as usual.
Why do we have to maintain distancing after a negative test?
After a negative test, you could still become infected and spread the virus. Respecting distancing when it’s needed and other rules is the most powerful way of stopping the spread of the virus.
What happens if I test positive for Covid-19?
If you test positive, you must self-isolate and get a confirmatory PCR test (if you had a LFD test). You will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace for information about your recent activities and people you met while potentially infectious.
Someone I live with has symptoms – what should I do?
PCR tests and various providers:
How do I book a private test?
If you are arriving to Sussex from overseas, check our international travel guidance on PCR tests.
You can also book a private PCR test (for example, so that you can travel to another country) at:
- pharmacies such as the University Pharmacy on campus, Boots and Lloyds offer private Covid-19 tests. You’ll find instructions for making an appointment on their websites
- private clinics
- some places that send out home test kits you can use.
Private providers of Covid-19 testing include:
- IQ Doctor – you can order a private home PCR test kit online, with next-day delivery (for an additional charge) and a ‘fit to fly’ certificate
- City Doc – you can order a private home PCR test kit online. City Doc also has a clinic in the Withdean area of Brighton. Appointments are available (at an additional charge) if you are required to have the test completed by a professional rather than administering it yourself
- Sussex Travel Clinic – you can book an appointment at one of their clinics in Hove and Worthing.
Important: Shop around before booking a private test and make sure it meets your travel requirements. Costs vary, but you probably won’t pay less than £100.
We don’t have personal experiences of the services provided by these firms and this information doesn’t constitute any endorsement or approval by the University of Sussex.
If you are under 18 but over the age of 16, you can self-consent to take the test.
Every time you take a test, you register your unique barcode. This process links you to your test sample and collects your contact details.
You don’t need to create an account to do this but, if you do, your details are saved.
To register, you provide your name, gender, date of birth, ethnic group, recent travel details, email address, mobile phone number and home address, plus details of any Covid symptoms.