University Covid-19 testing service first to be recognised with government accreditation

Thursday, 29 July 2021

The University of Nottingham’s asymptomatic Covid-19 testing service has been recommended for accreditation from the government to allow its unique non-invasive saliva testing process to be simplified and sped up by removing the need for a second confirmation NHS test.

Staff and students without symptoms who use the university asymptomatic testing service and test positive will now only need to test once and will no longer be required to take an NHS confirmatory test. They will also be able to begin 10 days isolation from the day they took the university test. Results are linked to the NHS Track and Trace programme. People with symptoms still need to continue to get tests via the NHS.

This accreditation will be the first to be given to a university and the University of Nottingham will be one of only 8 labs specifically accredited for CV-19 testing in the UK. The process to be accredited is rigorous with a number of lab visits and quality checks from government experts.

The testing service, which is wholly funded by the university, has been a huge success since its launch in September 2020, with over 78,000 student and staff tests carried out by a team of 25 core team members and 80 student helpers. Using the unique non-invasive saliva PCR test developed by scientists at the university, the testing service has been effective at accurately identifying and isolating any positive cases before symptoms occur, reducing Covid-19 transmission on campus and in the local community. The highly accurate PCR test is easier and more comfortable than a swab test and samples are analysed at world-class facilities on campus and genome sequencing is used to identify any variants.

Professor Chris Denning, Director of the University’s Biodiscovery Institute has led the creation and running of the service, he said: “Gaining this accreditation is a huge achievement for the testing team and is testament to the hard work and dedication everyone involved has shown in making this service a success since we started back in September. The accreditation recognises the high quality and accuracy of our tests and means some of the burden on the NHS can be eased.

The service has proved to be an invaluable tool in reducing the spread of Covid-19 amongst staff and students by breaking the chains of virus transmission. Since the initial pilot in halls back in September we now have a number of testing sites on all campuses where huge amounts of staff and students are getting tested every week. I am tremendously proud of what the team has achieved and would encourage everyone, including those who are vaccinated, to continue to get tested to keep everyone safe.”


A testing station at the University of Nottingham

There are 25 testing stations open across all three university campuses and a community testing station in Lenton and pop-up sites to support students and staff at City hospital, QMC and Derby Medical School. There is a booking system online with step-by-step instructions on how to take and book a test. Results are delivered the next working day after the test is taken. The university service is only for people without symptoms, anyone displaying symptoms still needs to test via the NHS.

The testing service team have worked closely with local public health, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and NHS Test and Trace to develop and expand the service.

We applaud the University of Nottingham for their dedication and diligence in setting up the university asymptomatic testing service, which has proved to be huge success in finding cases of Covid-19 within the student community. Making the testing process quick and efficient is one of the key drivers of encouraging more people to get tested which is greatly welcomed. As cases of Covid-19 are still rising in Nottingham, it is important that everyone still take a regular, rapid Covid-19 test even when they don’t have symptoms. There are many ways to access testing across Nottingham – people can order testing boxes to their home, pick a box up at a local testing or vaccination site or at many local pharmacies. If anyone in the community is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 or has a positive rapid test, they must urgently take a PCR test. These tests are easy to access – you can book for a test by visiting or by calling 119.
Lucy Hubber, Director of Public Health at Nottingham City Council

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Chris Denning at the University of Nottingham on

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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