CUSU and the Graduate Union have been working hard to ensure that students have clear information about contingency planning and preparations for coronavirus. The University has established a COVID-19 Management Group to coordinate their response, which Edward (CUSU President), Stella (CUSU-GU Welfare and Rights Officer) and Alessandro (GU President) sit on and will be attending meetings of in the coming days and weeks. This website will be updated regularly to provide students with information and sign-post to other sources of support.
Please see our latest update on the current situation for Cambridge University Students.
The University has today moved into its “red” phase in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. An email from the Vice-Chancellor has been sent to all members of the University today to inform them of this development
You can read the University email in full on the university website.
There will be no face-to-face teaching next term and no examinations will be taking place in Cambridge. As the University makes alternative arrangements for examinations and assessments, CUSU are working hard to ensure students’ concerns are heard. The University has published FAQs on assessment next term on their website. These will be updated as more information becomes available.
We are aware that different students have very different home environments, and some will find it difficult to study in any capacity, especially as public spaces begin to shut down. Some students will also be directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic or may have to take on caring responsibilities as a result. We will continue to emphasise the needs of these students in our conversations with the University. All alternative arrangements for assessment must fully articulate how these students will be accommodated for.
In developing alternative arrangements for assessment, we have stressed our opposition to assessments being carried out online in strict timed conditions and have urged the University to adopt as much flexibility as possible in developing these alternative arrangements.
Given the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in, we will be doing all we can to ensure that the University exercises maximum flexibility in accommodating the needs of individual students and making arrangements and adjustments which take account of their specific circumstances. The University has committed that for students whose assessment is disrupted in Easter Term, a further opportunity to sit the assessment will be available once the University is fully operational again.
We would also encourage students to keep a log of any disruption that occurs to your studies over the next months, in order to make the process of applying for mitigating circumstances as easy as possible.
If students have specific concerns about arrangements being made by their Faculty or Department, we would encourage them to get in touch with their academic reps.
Submission of a soft-bound thesis: The University is working with Degree Committees to receive soft-bound theses electronically. Please contact your Degree Committee directly for further guidance.
Viva voce examination: Your Degree Committee may arrange for your viva voce examination to be held via video conference. Please contact your Degree Committee directly for further details.
Submission of hardbound thesis and my e-thesis: The Student Services Centre will not be open to receive hardbound theses. The University is currently investigating whether the SSC can be opened for a specific period each week to receive post, which could include these. We will provide a further update on this shortly. You should submit your e-thesis unless informed otherwise by Student Registry.
Approval of the degree: Degree Committees and the Board of Graduate Studies will meet remotely over the coming months to consider the approval of degrees and other individual student matters.
Student Rent -The University and Colleges have guaranteed that students who have left their accommodation because of COVID-19 and are now unable to return to Cambridge will NOT have to pay rent for any of the period in which they are not in accommodation. The University and Colleges will provide more details via their own FAQs.
The University has asked all students who do not live permanently in Cambridge to return home, if they are able to do so. As colleges will likely be operating at a reduced capacity, it is important that they are able to prioritise students who have no other option but to remain in college accommodation. Therefore, if you do not live permanently in Cambridge and are able to return home safely, you should do so.
However, we know this will not be possible for all students, particularly for international students, estranged students and care leavers, postgraduate students, or students with family members who are self-isolating or in high-risk categories. If you live permanently in college accommodation or are unable to return home, you should continue to be accommodated and supported by your college.
We know some students may have entered temporary or insecure accommodation situations, following recent confusion around communications about leaving Cambridge. If you are reliant on your college for permanent accommodation, your college should continue to provide you with accommodation and support. We would encourage you to get in touch with your college to make this clear to them as soon as possible, and we will continue to ensure that they take your needs into account.
International Students - if you are unable to return home due to travel restrictions, financial difficulties, or because it is not safe to do so, your college should continue to provide you with accommodation and support.
Estranged Students and Care Leavers - if you are reliant on your college for permanent accommodation, your college should continue to provide you with accommodation and support.
Some students may be estranged from their families in practice, but do not have formal estranged status. Those students may now need to flag this with their College and Student Finance to ensure they have adequate support going forward. We encourage these students to contact their Senior Tutor for support with the formal verification process and funding. Further information on the formal verification process can be found here: www.standalone.org.uk/guides/student-guide
Students who are self-isolating - if you are currently self-isolating in college, your college should continue to provide you with accommodation and support.
Students with family who are self-isolating or in high-risk groups - if you are unable to return home due to members of your family self-isolating or belonging to high-risk groups, your college should continue to provide you with accommodation and support.
If you are unsure as to what is best to do, we would encourage you to get in touch with your Senior Tutor in the first instance.
The government guidance on visas has been that the Home Office considers this to be an exceptional situation and will not be penalising those who are unable to attend their studies/work. Further information can be found here: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk#licensed-tier-2-tier-4-or-tier-5-sponsors-absences-due-to-coronavirus
Students with questions about visas should contact the International Student Office for individual support.
The Home Office recognises the exceptional circumstances of the current situation and the University will continue to sponsor a student’s Tier 4 visa during a disruption to studies as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Visa and Leave to Work Away: Tier 4 sponsorship continues during an approved period of ‘Work Away’, in accordance with usual procedures.
Visa and Intermission: As the current circumstances are exceptional, Tier 4 sponsorship can also continue during a period of intermission (medical or non-medical) of up to 4 months. This timeframe will be kept under review and extended if students are unable to attend for a longer period owing to this situation.
Visa and Extension: Where a disruption to studies means a research students’ submission deadline is extended past their current Tier 4 visa expiry, a visa extension may be required in future and the International Student Office can provide further guidance at the relevant time.
Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES): In terms of the DES, it’s very difficult to be able to put a response together for this as it would be dependent on a number of factors (e.g. when the student’s visa is expiring, where exactly they are at in the final stages of the PhD process, whether they have decided to go overseas at this time etc.). The International Student Office provides very personalised advice to students looking to switch to DES, and they are relatively small in number. The best response would be to contact the International Student Office for further guidance.
Check the UK Council for International Student Affairs website for the latest updates from the Government. The Home Office have announced that if your immigration permission expired, or will expire, between 24 January and 31 May 2020 the Home Office will extend it for you up to 31 May 2020 without your having to make an immigration application or pay a fee. However, you must contact its Coronvirus Immigration Help Centre in order for this to happen. More information here: https://ukcisa.org.uk/Information--Advice/Studying--living-in-the-UK/Coronavirus-Covid-19-info-for-international-students
From Monday 16th March the University Counselling Service will be offering telephone calls for all booked appointments - for the most up to date information, check their website www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/general
Apply for leave to Work Away: All postgraduate students who have left Cambridge and are able to undertake any work from home, including reading or theoretical work, are asked to apply to work away from Cambridge. When applying to work away due to Coronavirus, you can apply to Work Away after you start working from home and after you have left Cambridge. You do not need to do this beforehand. You do not need to apply for this if you are staying in Cambridge.
Apply for Non-Medical Intermissions: This is in case students cannot undertake any work whatsoever from home, including literature review or reading. It is very important that you discuss this option with your Tutor, your Supervisor and the Student Registry before you opt for this route. Especially important is to get in touch with your Funding Agency before you request the intermission, so as to get clarifications on maintenance and fees support. If you are unsure about how long to apply for, the University suggests that applications are made until the end of June 2020 in the first instance – this can be extended if necessary. Please see the section below on visas if you are on Tier 4 visa and considering this option.
Apply for Medical Intermission: The position of the University is that students who contract COVID-19 should apply for medical intermission. It is very important that you discuss this with your Tutor, your Supervisor and the Student Registry, and especially important is to get in touch with your funding agency, so as to get clarifications on maintenance and fees support. Further details are available at https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/graduate-study/your-student-status/medical-intermission
Apply for Extensions: For final year and submitting students, if you find that you need additional time, you can apply to extend your submission date. The University recommends that you do this around 6 months before your submission deadline when you will have a clear idea of the amount of additional time needed.
We will continue to lobby the University to ensure clear information is provided to students with regards to funding and financial support. This is of particular importance for low-income students and PhD students reliant on research funding. Further information in relation to this should be made available shortly.
If you have concerns about funding and financial support, we would encourage you to talk to your College Tutor to explore options for further financial support.
Hardship support: For those students who find themselves in financial need due to Coronavirus (Covid-19) the Special Hardship Fund is the correct Hardship Fund to access. The cap on these Coronavirus related applications has now been raised to £3,350, to help those in the most need. Applications will continue to be processed regularly and payments will be made to the College for transfer to the student. In cases where this is not possible we ask that the student’s bank details are provided, but this should be in exceptional circumstances only. An updated Special Hardship Fund application form (to be used during the COVID19 emergency) can be found here and should be used during this period. All applications need to be emailed to email@example.com. All other hardship funds should continue to run, as normally as possible, during this period for applications that are not related to Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Funding during Intermissions (medical and non-medical): The university has a Special Hardship Fund that PG students, especially intermitting (medical or non-medical) students, can apply to. Colleges will also set up additional independent support for their residents.
This web page provides information for current students of the University about a range of funding, additional to statutory and other state support, that is available to students who find themselves in need of extra financial assistance or who are otherwise facing exceptional or unexpected financial hardship.
Postgraduate research funding from UKRI: On 26 March UKRI updated their Training Grants Specific Guidance to confirm that no penalties will be applied to Research Organisations as a result of COVID-19 extensions - see their website for more information: https://www.ukri.org/news/coronavirus-impact-on-ukri-supported-research/#guidance The Graduate Union has co-written an open letter on this issue, encouraging all research funding bodies to offer funding extensions for the duration of this crisis.
First of all, your safety and mental health is priority. Do get in touch with your Supervisor and College Tutor for support and guidance if you need it, as well as the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service (SUAS).
The University suggests that you should continue to follow the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice and make/change your arrangements accordingly. If you need to extend your period of fieldwork or if you are unable to continue with your fieldwork you should inform us by emailing the Student Registry at firstname.lastname@example.org . You should also contact the University of Cambridge Insurance Office to ensure that your travel insurance remains valid by calling 01223 765002, or via email.
The University also suggests that if you are coming to the end of your fieldwork, they advise that you consider returning home rather than to Cambridge. In this case, you should submit a further application to work away so that the University knows where you are. Of course, this is not applicable if your home is indeed Cambridge, or if going home is not a feasible option. In this instance please contact the Student Registry at email@example.com. If travel restrictions prevent you leaving your fieldwork location you should let the University know by emailing the Student Registry at firstname.lastname@example.org. You should also contact the University of Cambridge Insurance Office to ensure that your travel insurance remains valid by calling 01223 765002, or via email.
There are many books already available to you as eBooks and more have recently been made available in response to the Coronavirus situation. Please read:https://libguides.cam.ac.uk/cambridgeebooks/ and contact ebooks@Cambridge if you need to request others.
Many journals and databases (http://libguides.cam.ac.uk/az.php) are also available online, please see: https://www.libraries.cam.ac.uk/eresources
Information is constantly changing, so please check your emails for further updates. You might also wish to read the FAQ that Cambridge University Libraries has put together: https://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/news/coronavirus-faqs
As for books you already have on loan please do not be concerned. All books currently on loan will auto-renew through the vacation and Easter term. A further message will be circulated about how to drop off books over the vacation should you wish to return them.
Further information about how the University is keeping the libraries open online to support study and research is available here: https://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/research/librarysearch/university-libraries-are-all-open-online
|University of Cambridge Guidance||Coronavirus: advice for University staff, students and departments|
|University of Cambridge Travel Guidance||University guidance for those who have travelled or are planning to travel.|
|NHS Advice & Guidance||Guidance for members of the public regarding COVID-19. COVOID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.|
|Government Guidance||Updated government guidance including how to look after yourself, what to do if you have travelled recently and preventing the spread of the virus.|
*Please check back with the websites regularly for the most up to date information.
Welfare & Practical Support
CUSU has set up an online note-sharing drive for students; this was initially set up as a strike support mechanism but we think it will be useful in light of the Covid-19 situation as well.
If you have notes from previous years that you’re willing to share with other students, whether that’s from lectures cancelled due to strikes or on texts that may become difficult to obtain if the University closes, please add them to the drive. To be added to the drive, whether to add notes or to access them, just submit your email through this form.
For those who can access online resources, the following sites provide access to millions of books and research papers:
Mutual aid groups are being set up in communities across the country to coordinate care efforts for people who are self isolating, especially if they are part of a more at risk demographic including the elderly, disabled and people with other pre-existing health issues, or people with mental health issues for whom isolation is very difficult.
- A list of mutual aid groups across the UK is compiled here: www.covidmutualaid.org/local-groups
- Alternatively, you can receive updates on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CovidAidUK
Queercare are also offering community support to those in need. Email email@example.com to give your support and get involved. Share the link to this form with those you know who will need support and if you are in need of support fill it out yourself too. Queercare have also released important information about how to minimise infection while doing this work supporting vulnerable people, which can be found on their website.
The Students’ Unions’ Advice Service will be conducting appointments with students by telephone or Skype, and drop-ins will be conducted by phone.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need help.
Up-to-date information is available on their website: https://www.studentadvice.cam.ac.uk/
Please ensure you are taking time to take care of yourself mentally at this time, tuning out of media if necessary, and reaching out if you need help.
University Student Wellbeing Guidance
- Mind has a webpage on managing Coronavirus and mental health: www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing
- Samaritans is free to call at 116 123.
Big White Wall
- Big White Wall is an anonymous community where members can support each other, with access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - www.bigwhitewall.com
Keeping Yourself Entertained
- There are lots of resources online with things to keep you occupied if you are in self isolation. Here's a list of podcasts / songs / albums / articles / poems / videos / films / books to help us all stay busy and calm during this difficult time.