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Census 2021: everything you need to know to complete your form today

Queen Mary is working in partnership with the Office for National Statistics to ensure that all our students are included in Census 2021. Whether you are in halls, living in a shared house, living with your parents or guardians, or are an international student – all students are an important part of the census and must be included.


Updated guidance: 23 March 2021

Census Day was on 21 March, but you can complete your census any time from now until 30 April 2021. The Office for National Statistics has provided updated guidance for international students.

If you have never taken up a term-time address in the UK because of the pandemic, then you do not need to complete the census. Students studying on non-UK campuses do not need to complete the census.

If you are not currently staying at a term-time address in the UK, but attended university in person during the 2020/21 academic year and still have a formal agreement to stay in your term-time accommodation, you should request an access code to complete the census for your term-time address.

You will need a UK mobile phone number to request an access code. If you don’t have a UK mobile number, you could ask friends or family in the UK to help you get a code.

The ONS has confirmed that students will not be liable for a fine if they don't complete the census for their term-time address.

What is the census?

The census is an important national survey that takes place every ten years, which gives us a uniquely detailed picture of all the people and households in England and Wales.

All kinds of organisations, from local authorities to charities, use the information to help provide the services we all need, including transport, education and healthcare. Without the census, it would be much more difficult to do this.

Why is it important for you, as a student, to fill in the census?

By taking part, you’ll be helping make sure you and your student community get the services needed now and in the future. The information you give informs decisions that affect student life, such as university campus bus links and bike lanes, jobs and training. Therefore, it is key that you complete the form for your university address.

The last census was carried out in 2011, so this might be your first time completing the census yourself. Don’t worry – it only takes ten minutes per person and you will complete it online.

How to complete your census

The official Census Day is 21 March, but you can fill in yours in now. For more information on how to complete it, visit the Office for National Statistics website.

If you haven’t received your code, or have lost or cannot access it, you can request a new one online. Your code will be sent via SMS text message.

We understand your circumstances may have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic. So, although you might not be living where you normally would be when at University, you must complete the form with your normal university address.

What you need to do: at a glance

What you need to do to complete the census will depend on where you are currently living, and where you normally live.

  • Halls of residence: if you are currently living in halls, you should have received a letter with your access code – make sure you check your halls mailbox. If you haven’t received your letter or aren’t currently living in your halls accommodation, you’ll need to request a code by text.
  • Private accommodation: you will receive a census letter for your household, so should discuss with your housemates how you plan to complete the form. You can answer individually or as a household.
  • Living at home (commuter students): if you normally live at home during term time, you should be included on your household census form.
  • International students: you should complete the census if you are staying in the UK now and have stayed, or intend to stay, in the UK for at least three months, or if you are not currently in the UK but lived here during the Autumn 2020 term, and/or Winter 2021 term, and still have a formal agreement to be able to stay at your term-time accommodation. You will need to request an access code by text for your term time address.
  • Students on distance learning courses: if you have never lived at a different address in order to study, you will only need to complete the census for your home address if you live in the UK.

Detailed information and instructions are available on the census website. Guidance is also available in other languages, and in video format with BSL translations and audio subtitles in English.

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to take part. For more information about the census, or if you need help, visit the census website. There are a wide range of services available, including translations and accessible guidance.



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