FAQs for Year Abroad students

These FAQs are for Information for undergraduate students with a year abroad as part of their course. Before reviewing them, you should first read the information about the University’s response to coronavirus on the student coronavirus information pages.

The following information should be read in conjunction with the Year Abroad and Erasmus information available on the Oxford and the EU: student Q&As webpage.

What is the University’s position on the Year Abroad in 2021-22?

The University intends for students to undertake their Year Abroad in 2021-22, subject to a robust and enhanced risk assessment process designed to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are carefully monitoring the impact of the pandemic as the situation develops in different international locations, and students will be advised according to the latest available guidance on travel and safety.

Relevant factors include local policies in host countries and organisations, restrictions on domestic and international travel, and the status of the UK Government’s foreign travel advice. Individual placements and courses will be affected in different ways, and students will need to be flexible in meeting the requirements of their course of study during the academic year. Start dates may be delayed where appropriate, and in alternative learning arrangements will be being arranged if in-country placements are not considered viable.  

When will I find out if my placement is going ahead?

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means that the approval process for students’ travel plans takes longer than usual, and plans may also need to change at short notice as circumstances change. We appreciate that this may create some uncertainty for your plans,  but our priority is ensuring that your Year Abroad travel takes place safely and securely and provides you with a rewarding educational experience. Your department or faculty will be in touch with you directly as soon as it is possible to confirm the details of the arrangements for your planned activity. To support the risk assessment process, it is essential that you complete all the required paperwork on time and with sufficient detail on your plans.

Oriental Studies Year Abroad

Decisions on travel during 2021-22 for students in the Faculty of Oriental Studies will be taken on a case by case basis for each language group depending on the latest travel advice and the circumstances of the pandemic in the relevant host country and partner institution. The Faculty is monitoring the situation carefully and intends to make provisional decisions on travel and alternative teaching arrangements by the end of July. Students will be contacted by their course tutor in due course with further guidance.

I am concerned about going abroad due to the pandemic and its consequences. What options do I have?  

If you have concerns about travelling you should consult the year abroad coordinator in your department or faculty to discuss your concerns and to explore the support available to you during the year. It is important that your Year Abroad is a positive learning experience and everything will be done to ensure that placements are completed in a safe and supportive environment. The risks associated with travel will vary depending on your intended destination and the nature of your planned work or study placement, and it is likely that there can be some flexibility with the details your placement(s). 

Who should I contact if I experience a problem with my placement whilst abroad?

In the first instance you should contact the year abroad coordinator in your department or faculty, and your College tutor, as a matter of urgency for further advice and assistance. If you are undertaking a placement supported by Erasmus funding, you should also contact the Erasmus office: Please make sure you keep all these contact details with you as well as those of family and friends, your insurance company, banks and mobile phone provider. Make sure that contact details are saved separately in case you lose your mobile phone.   

What if I’m eligible for a first vaccination in the UK but the second dose will not be scheduled until after my departure date?

The NHS advise that students in this position should contact the health service in the country where they will be resident at the time the second dose is due. If you have concerns about completing your course of vaccination and the timing of your travel plans please contact your year abroad tutor for advice. For further information please see these NHS FAQs for students in higher education.  

Can I live in my College if my Year Abroad placement is delayed?

Students are not normally provided with College accommodation in Oxford during the year abroad component of their degree course, and the expectation is that you will stay at home if there are periods during 20221-22 when you cannot travel and need to remain in your home country. If you are experiencing particular difficulties and would like discuss the possibility of returning to Oxford, please contact your college to explain your circumstances.

What do I do if I get sick while I’m away?

All students are required to have insurance ahead of their travel, typically provided through the University's insurers. If you require medical assistance, please contact a healthcare provider and your insurance company for support and advice. Students in the EU with a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) issued before 31 December 2020 will be able to use this card until its expiry date. You should also apply here for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC), or a UK EHIC (if you have rights protected under the withdrawal agreement) which will provide access to medically-necessary healthcare. The GHIC/UK EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance, and students in the EU should always ensure that their insurance contains appropriate medical cover.

Will leaving a year abroad activity affect my academic progress?

Please be assured that we are committed to supporting our students’ academic success. The University has thorough processes for considering the impact of exceptional circumstances on students’ progression and assessment and these are used in a range of circumstances. Course requirements for students with a year abroad component are kept under review and in the case of substantial disruption individual faculties and departments will make adjustments on a cohort-wide basis, where possible. The expectation during 2021-22 is that you will adapt flexibly to changing circumstances, and will engage with any alternative learning arrangements that may be provided in cases where there is disruption to planned activities. 

Will my Student Finance maintenance funding from the UK government be affected if my year abroad placement is cancelled or I do not go abroad until later in the academic year?

Students who study abroad or complete an Erasmus work placement abroad can receive an increased overseas rate of maintenance loan for each term they are abroad. Students who are undertaking a work placement abroad outside of the Erasmus programme receive a reduced rate of maintenance loan compared to when they are studying in the UK.

Students who plan to study abroad later in the academic year, but are staying in the UK for one or two terms and studying with their home university, will be assessed for the applicable UK-based maintenance loan rate. The loan rate awarded is dependent on the student’s situation for the majority of the term. If students then travel abroad later in the academic year, they will receive the abroad rate for those terms.

Please also refer to the Student Finance FAQs on study/work abroad which are being updated with the latest guidance on a rolling basis. 

Can I apply for University travel insurance cover?

Yes, providing that your Year Abroad placement has been approved by your department/faculty and an enhanced risk assessment has been completed, you may apply for University insurance cover by following the normal application process. See here for further details on eligibility and how to apply.

I am travelling to a destination outside the EU for my Year Abroad placement. Will there be any financial support available?

The University has applied to the new Turing Scheme for funding to support students undertaking international placements, including activities in destinations outside the EU that were not previously funded by the Erasmus+ scheme. The University expects to hear the outcome of its funding bid in July, and will contact eligible students with further information as soon as it becomes available.  

Will I be covered by University insurance if I incur extra costs due to COVID-19?

The cover currently provided by the University’s travel insurance policy does not include additional costs incurred as a result of COVID-19. Cancellation costs, or additional expenses for travel, subsistence, and accommodation arising from pandemic-related disruption will not be covered. However there is no change to the normal insurance cover for emergency medical expenses, and your medical costs would be covered in the event that you were to contract COVID-19. For further details on cover and exclusions please consult the Travel Insurance webpage.

If I am required to quarantine on arrival in my host country how will this affect my Erasmus funding?

The UK’s Erasmus+ National Agency has confirmed that quarantine periods can be considered as a prolongation of the mobility period and Erasmus regular funding rate can be paid for the quarantine period in the host country. The first day of the quarantine period will be considered as the start of the mobility (as long as your total mobility duration does not exceed the maximum number of eligible days). Please note that this support for the quarantine period does not apply when returning to the UK or home country. Students are encouraged to commence virtual activities during the quarantine period, if possible.

Can I receive Erasmus funding if I start working/studying remotely and then travel to the host country once it is permitted/once the faculty approves my travel?

The European Commission has confirmed that Erasmus+ students can start their mobility through virtual activities, with the aim of combining online learning/working with a physical mobility abroad at a later date, if and when the situation allows.

During the “virtual period” you will not receive an Erasmus grant. Once the physical mobility period starts, you will be entitled to receive the applicable Erasmus grant for the period spent abroad, provided this meets the minimum duration requirements.

Students who travel to their host country and receive virtual learning/work remotely from the host country (or a mixture of on-campus/on-site and online learning/work) are eligible to receive the Erasmus+ grant.

Students returning to the UK due to Covid-19 restrictions in their host country will now be eligible to continue receiving their Erasmus+ grant, providing that they continue studying/working virtually with their host organisation.

What should I do if my Erasmus study exchange/work placement is cancelled prior to my departure or whilst I am there?

Please contact the year abroad coordinator in your department or faculty and your College tutor as a matter of urgency for further advice and assistance. If you are undertaking Erasmus study or a traineeship, you should also contact the Erasmus office: to discuss the situation including any requirements related to your Erasmus grant.

Can I postpone my study exchange/work placement abroad to another semester/term?

Please contact the year abroad coordinator in your department/faculty, your College tutor, and the Erasmus office to discuss the possibility of postponing your study exchange/work placement abroad to another semester/term. Where it is possible to postpone the release of your Erasmus funding to another semester/term, you will be required to submit a series of Erasmus documentation prior to your departure. It is therefore important that you liaise with the Erasmus office as soon as your revised plans are confirmed. Please also bear in mind that there may be no study exchange places available at a partner university during another semester/term. Before postponing your exchange study or traineeship, it is critical that you speak with your year abroad coordinator and College tutor.

Are there any changes to qualify for Erasmus funding in terms of durations in light of the pandemic?

The minimum physical mobility durations to qualify for Erasmus funding remain the same – three months for study placements and two months for traineeships. Where it is not possible to start mobility abroad physically, a blended mobility approach could be used, i.e. to start with a period of virtual mobility, to be combined with a physical mobility abroad with a minimum duration of physical mobility as set out above.

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