Wherever you are in the world we hope that you are all safe and well. During this unprecedented period, as the global community responds to tackling the COVID-19 outbreak, our priorities have always been to support your wellbeing, support your studies and provide the most up to date advice.
In all of our advice to you over the recent months the University has adhered closely to the UK Government advice for travellers and the specific advice for students who are studying or working overseas. When we wrote to you last on 24th March 2020 our recommendations were provided based on the current advice - that advice has now changed.
The advice of the UK Government now states:
- All UK students and staff currently studying on exchanges (for example, Erasmus+, or terms abroad) or working temporarily overseas are advised to return to the UK now, while commercial routes are still available
- If UK students currently overseas for longer periods, for example those studying full degrees, are considering returning to the UK, they should do so while commercial routes are still available.
The University is now strongly recommending that all UK nationals should observe the UK Government advice (updated 25/03) and return to the UK now.
Students who are not UK nationals are advised to follow the recommendations of their home country Government, observing any travel restrictions and advice.
Why has the University advice changed?
Late on 25th March 2020 the detailed guidance for UK students already studying or working overseas was revised by the UK Government.
The full advice is available from this link and we recommend that you read this carefully.
What this means is that our advice to you must also change, in line with the UK Government advice for UK nationals, and the advice from our travel insurance providers UMAL.
We recognise that this will be disappointing but would like to reassure you that we will make all best endeavours for you to be able to progress on your course normally, including the option to continue studying with your host institution via distance learning.
What you should do now.
If you are a UK National we recommend that you follow the UK Government advice and make immediate travel plans to return to the UK.
Advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
- International travel is becoming very limited as air routes cease, land borders close and new restrictions are put in place that prevent flights from leaving.
- If you are considering returning to the UK, you should contact your airline or travel company now, and keep up-to-date with FCOtravel advice.
- FCO teams around the world are working urgently to ensure that governments have sensible plans to enable the return of British and other travellers, and, crucially, to keep borders open for a sufficient period of time to enable returns to take place on commercial routes, wherever possible. FCO is also working with airlines to ensure as many people as possible can get commercial flights home.
- UK travellers abroad should keep up to date with travel advice for the country/territory they are in.
- FCO has published advice for British nationals who do not have immediate departure options available to them.
- FCO is working with airlines to keep routes open and is calling for international action to keep routes open to enable British people to return home on commercial flights. We are also working around the clock to support those British travellers who are experiencing difficulties coming back to the UK.
- If you intend to return to the UK, you should use appropriate methods of travel. You need to take account of the fast-moving situation and plan accordingly, including the fact there are currently fewer commercial routes available.
- You should continue to monitor the travel advice issued by the FCO and comply with any coronavirus (COVID-19) control measures put in place by your host nation.
Advice from the University:
If you are leaving your host country / host institution you should let them know. Your host institution may already have supportive arrangements in place for you to leave.
If you are leaving your host country / host institution please let us know. You can contact us for advice and information via: email@example.com
Your host institution may already have arrangements in place for you to continue your studies with at a distance. Where this is possible, this is the best option.
Where you cannot complete your semester/year abroad, we will make further arrangements to support your academic progression upon your return to the UK. This may require individual advice for your specific programme and we will provide further updates as soon as possible.
What if I cannot leave my host country due to travel restrictions? / I do not want to return to the UK?
Advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
- Travellers currently overseas should be prepared for border closures or lockdown measures being introduced at short notice.
- If you are abroad, you must follow the advice of local authorities and also follow the latest FCO travel advice. You must be ready to comply with local isolation, testing or quarantine requirements, and will need to rely on the local health system. You should contact your airline, tour operator and travel insurer to find out what support they can offer.
If you are abroad, you must follow the advice of local authorities and also follow the latest FCO travel advice. You must be ready to comply with local isolation, testing or quarantine requirements, and will need to rely on the local health system.
You can subscribe to FCO email alerts for the country/territory you are in via the ‘Get email alerts’ link on each travel advice page. You should also consult the latest PHE Public Health matters guidance.
If you are a UK national who needs emergency help from the UK government while overseas as the country you are in will not allow you to travel back to the UK, or there are no commercial travel options available, you can contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission or the FCO in London on 0207 008 1500 for help or advice 24/7.
Before you travel, read the latest health advice and follow guidance for travellers to reduce your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Read guidance on what you can do if you need financial help and who you can contact for support when abroad.
Advice from the University:
If you cannot leave your host country / host institution, or you choose to remain where you are then you should stay safe by following all local advice and the advice of your host institution. You can continue to engage with your studies where you are.
If you are not a UK national then you should follow the advice of the Government in your home country as relevant to the circumstances and the country you are in.
We understand that you may have recently contacted the Study Abroad & Exchange Team with your choice of options based on our last message. You should now reconsider these options and let us know your plans as soon as possible
Advice and support from the University’s travel insurance providers, UMAL:
Our insurance providers have confirmed that:
For UK nationals our insurance providers will accept claims for curtailment of your studies. What this means is that if you now wish to return to the UK and you have a pre-booked flight to the UK our insurers will consider claims for any reasonable additional expenses incurred as a result of changing your flight. Other reasonable claims, for example related to accommodation expenses, will also be considered.
For all other students – our insurance providers will only consider a claim where your home Government has issued advice that you must now return home and you have a pre-booked flight to your home destination.
For all students overseas, our insurance providers will not accept claims where there is no pre-booked return flight. The University is committed to supporting students with any reasonable additional costs that may arise from this situation and where our insurers will not consider the claim. We can only consider these costs on a case by case basis.
If you are not a UK national and you remain where you are – our insurance providers will continue to provide cover for your stay if your home Government has not issued advice that you should return to your home country. You should check the advice from your home Government about whether or not it is safe to remain where you are.
If you are a UK national and you choose to remain where you are then it is possible that our insurers will withdraw any ongoing cover. We are waiting for updated advice from UMAL to confirm this position. If you are actively trying to get back to the UK then your insurance cover will remain in place until you are home safely. In the event that the University insurance cover is withdrawn you will need to secure your own travel insurance for where you are – this may be difficult in the current circumstances so you should consider this very carefully.
Other support that is available:
Our insurance providers have activated our Global Response Cover which can offer support for students who are having any difficulty returning to their home country on the advice of their home Government:
“For those travellers who are unable to return home due to the lack of any available flights, we would urge them to contact Global Response to see if any other means of return can be arranged. The UMAL travel cover will continue to operate and will also cover reasonable additional costs of sustenance, travel and accommodation necessarily incurred until the end of the original planned duration of the journey”.
You can contact the Global Response team –
Tel.+ 44(0)29 2066 2425 (available 24/7/365)
We would also strongly recommend downloading the Global Risk Management App which is available from: https://umal.co.uk/travel/pre-travel-advice and using the website www.drum-cussac.net/travel-advices/countries for updates - please use your UoB university email to access this.
We understand that this is a long and complex message – and you should read this carefully and follow the links to the relevant available advice.
We also appreciate that this will be confusing and concerning and you may have a number of questions. Wherever you are and whatever you decide we will support you as much as we can – and we are available to respond to your individual queries through the Study Abroad Team. We are receiving a very high volume of enquiries at the moment and so there may be a brief delay in getting back to you.
You can contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are all working hard here in the UK, under very unusual circumstances, to get you the best advice as soon as we can. The situation in the UK and the advice we are receiving is changing very rapidly, often daily.
The most important thing is to stay safe and well – and to observe all of the local advice to avoid the spread of infection. We recognise that this is lengthy advice, which reflects the various circumstances you may find yourselves in across the globe. We are here to help and support you, as much as we can, but we are always limited in what we can do from a distance. Supporting you to be safe and continue and complete your studies is our priority so please let us know what you are planning so that we can provide the most effective advice.