FAQs for students on a study abroad or exchange programme

Please see below the latest information and advice in the FAQs for students on a study abroad or exchange programme. 

 

I am planning to go on a Study Abroad placement in 2020/21. What should I do?

This year has been exceptionally difficult for all students planning to study abroad, and the situation is still fluid as the COVID-19 crisis continues to affect travel to different countries in different ways.

Following recent changes to the UK's policy, announced by the government, there has been a change to travel advice in some parts of Europe and to some international destinations. It is important to continue to check both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) list of countries exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel, as well as the individual entry requirements for your destination. Some countries are on the FCO list of exempt countries, but they are barring entry to their country to foreign nationals, including British nationals or other country’s nationals.

In cases where the FCO travel advice does not support non-essential travel to your host country, at present time we are unable to approve your physical travel. Please monitor the situation daily via the FCO pages.

A student assessment form (Section 1) must be completed and approved for those who will be able to undertake physical travel. This is to ensure that students consider in advance the risks that they may face when abroad and that they are aware of the steps that should be taken in advance and while undertaking the exchange/placement to help minimise risks. Please consider carefully the government advice available at the FCO pages and pre-travel information provided by the University.

Please note that students will not be able to undertake their exchange/placement until:

-          The form has been completed and signed, and submitted fully accepting the risks involved in undertaking the exchange/placement in the chosen destination. 

-          Confirmation is received from the Study Abroad & Exchanges Team approving the submission

What can I do if I do not have approval to travel?

Students are encouraged to ensure they are up-to-date with their host’s communication and confirm they are aware of the online learning/remote working offered and if this can be available. Online learning/remote working must be secured until FCO Travel advice permits travel. The Study Abroad and Exchanges Team are also following up with students’ departments where online options are not available at the host university/organisation.

If you have any questions, please contact the Study Abroad and Exchanges team at outgoingstudyabroad@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Can I travel to my host country without the University permission?

A student assessment form (Section 1) must be completed and approved by the University for those who will be able to undertake physical travel, before students can travel to their host country.

The University reserves the right to withdraw permission for, to postpone, or to terminate and recall students from, a placement or a period of study abroad where, in its judgement, there is a risk to personal safety and/or wellbeing. Unfortunately, this means that if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises against non-essential travel to your host country, then at this stage we cannot permit physical travel for study or work abroad purposes to this country.

If you choose to travel to a host country without the University's permission, you will not be eligible for University travel cover and you will be travelling at your own risk. Since we will not have permitted your travel, any study or activities you do while overseas would not formally be part of your programme of study with the University and therefore may not be recognised for your degree. You will be advised to apply for a leave of absence.

Can I travel if the FCO advice for my host country advises against all but essential travel?

The University reserves the right to withdraw permission for, to postpone, or to terminate and recall students from, a placement or a period of study abroad where, in its judgement, there is a risk to personal safety and/or wellbeing. Unfortunately, this means that if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises against non-essential travel to your host country, then at this stage we cannot permit physical travel for study or work abroad purposes to this country.

If you choose to travel to a host country without the University's permission, you will not be eligible for University travel cover and you will be travelling at your own risk. Since we will not have permitted your travel, any study or activities you do while overseas would not formally be part of your programme of study with the University and therefore may not be recognised for your degree. You will be advised to apply for a leave of absence.

How does the University classify ‘essential travel’?

The University does not classify travel for Study Abroad purposes as “essential travel”. Whilst there is no legal definition of ‘essential travel’, the examples given by the government include travel to support an ill family member, when no-one else is available, or haulage drivers transporting essential goods.

The university must put the safety of students first, and act prudently and consistently for all its students following government guidance. Therefore, if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises against non-essential travel to your host country, at this stage it will not be possible for us to permit physical travel for study abroad purposes. Online alternatives will be offered, where possible.

If I have already travelled to my host country, when the advice then changes, what should I do?

For students who received approval for their submitted Student Assessment form (Section 1) and have since travelled in agreement with the university to a country in which the FCO travel advice has changed, they are required to complete an additional CV-19 Self-Assessment form (Section 2). This form has been sent to students. The Study Abroad Office will then advise on next steps.

If you have any questions about the form, please contact the Study Abroad and Exchanges team at outgoingstudyabroad@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Where do I stand in terms of costs incurred related to my study abroad period?

The University's cover providers have confirmed that there is no cover for any costs relating to cancellation or curtailment for trips booked after 18 March 2020 if the cause of that cancellation or curtailment is related to COVID-19. However, there is no general pandemic exclusion; in particular, cover will continue to be in place for emergency medical expenses incurred due to COVID-19 issues (although not for testing nor for general health checks) whilst in the overseas country.

In light of this:

(a)    Students should continue to follow the FCO advice about international travel, both the FCO list of exempt countries, as well as the individual entry requirements for host destination. Please be sure to check that the host destination is open to British nationals / nationals from your country.

(b)    If time-critical tasks need to be undertaken that are of relatively modest cost (for example, applying for visas, vaccinations), then these should be undertaken. This guidance reflects the fact that the situation is fluid: even if the current FCO advice is against all but essential travel to a country, that may change before the period of study abroad commences.

(c)     If the study abroad period is in a country for which the current FCO advice is against all but essential travel, then our guidance is not incur any significant costs (for example, booking travel and accommodation) at this point. If costs are incurred, then please note that neither the University nor the University’s cover providers will reimburse these if ultimately students are unable to travel. The cost is at a student’s risk.

(d)    If the study abroad period is in a country on the current FCO exemption list and British nationals / their country’s nationals are allowed to enter the country, then our guidance is to move forward and make arrangements for travel. However, please note that students do so at their own risk and it is still possible that their trip has to be cancelled or curtailed. If this does happen, then unfortunately the costs would not be covered by University’s travel cover, nor re-imbursed by the University.

The full summary of the University’s travel cover can be found on our website. If you need any further information on the cover, please contact our Insurance Team via email at insurance-enquiries@contacts.bham.ac.uk. Additionally, the government has also updated its pages on travel insurance with a reference to COVID-19. 

What is the latest update on Erasmus+ grants?

Information regarding eligibility for Erasmus+ grant funding will be sent to you directly by the Study Abroad & Exchanges Team. General information regarding Erasmus+ programmes can be found online on the European Commission’s website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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