About COVID-19 testing

Please find the latest information for students about testing and how St Catharine’s College is responding to help limit the spread of COVID-19. If you have any concerns not covered by our available FAQs, please contact

How does testing work if I don't have symptoms?

1) Weekly tests provided by the University and College

The University wrote to all students to confirm that the asymptomatic COVID-19 screening programme will restart every week (for St Catharine's students, this will be on Mondays from 27 September). The programme will be a key component of how the College can keep our community safe and act to contain any outbreaks. Before students arrive for the new academic year, the College will be in touch with further information, including your testing pool and other details.

If you are in College accommodation this year and have not yet signed up to participate, please use the online consent form.

If you are in an eligible private household, you have until 9am on 20 September to register online to be included in weekly testing for this year.

If you aren’t able to take part, we would strongly advise that you complete rapid lateral flow tests at least twice a week while using College facilities and/or living in College accommodation.

2) Rapid lateral flow tests (known as LFTs)

LFTs will provide added reassurance between weekly pooled testing and for large gatherings this term. Depending on the size and venue for an event, organisers may ask you to provide proof of a negative LFT result from the same day: for large College/MCR/JCR events, an official Government email or text message (triggered when you report your test result) or time-stamped photo of the test itself will be accepted. Organisers will be in touch to explain what is required for their event.  

Before returning to College, UK students should make sure they have:

  • packed a supply of LFTs
  • use an LFT 3–4 days before travel, as well as on the day of travel back to Cambridge.

Once you have arrived, all students (UK and international) can stock up with free LFTs from local collection points. Please avoid ordering LFTs by post as there is limited space in the Porters’ Lodge to manage this number of packages.

Use of LFTs for events:

How does testing work if I have symptoms?

Free testing should be booked through the University's online form (use the drop down menu to select 'Staff member or student of the University of Cambridge') for:

1. High temperature – this means a feeling of feverishness, or a measured temperature above 37.8° C

2. New cough – this means a new intermittent or persistent cough, or worsening of your usual cough (if you have one)

3. A loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, particularly in the absence of nasal congestion

4. Headache

5. Sore throat

6. Runny nose

7. Muscle aches

8. New hoarseness

9. New shortness of breath

10. A new wheeze

NHS testing is also available (out of hours) for symptoms 1–3. When you book a test, remember to follow the important steps outlined on the main FAQ about COVID-19, to help us support you and limit the spread of infections.

The University offers symptomatic tests to students, University and College staff, certain defined affiliates, and individuals who live in a household with University or College staff or students, but who are not themselves staff or students. This enhanced testing is subject to capacity. Swabs are sent to the lab the same day and results are reported a further 48 hours later – please do not phone or email for your results (in one week in September 2020, the service received in excess of 3,000 calls and emails, which causes delays in the system). Find out more about the University's testing capabilities and book a test