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 to inform them of this development
You can read the University email in full on the university website.
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.
Some undergraduate and postgraduate students have additional concerns around the impact that the public health situation will have on their current and future career plans. The University of Cambridge Careers Service remains willing and able to provide support although all appointments with a Careers Adviser will be carried out remotely until further notice. Details of how to access those appointments are available here.
In the next few weeks some students may start reflecting on career options (whichever point of the course they may be currently at). If that’s the case then please do take some time to take a look at the Career Service resources or to speak to one of their team to see how they can best support you. Students could explore the three groups (“I'm looking for ideas”, “I've got a few ideas”, and “I have a clear idea”) on the Career Service homepage, subscribe to their blog for regular stories written by the Career advisers, students and alumni, and access GradLink to chat with Cambridge graduates.
The Career Service will continue to upload vacancies to their website as they receive them. On the other hand, if thinking about next steps after Cambridge feels too much right now, then rest assured the Career Service will be there to support you whenever you need in the future.
Employers are also reflecting on the impact that COVID 19 will have on their businesses and recruitment activities. The Careers Service is closely monitoring this and are in regular touch with the relevant professional bodies as well other careers professionals.
They will be releasing updates on career advice for students during COVID 19 on their blog: https://unicamcareers.edublogs.org/
As of Tuesday 17th March the DRC will be holding phone or Skype appointments only. Please email email@example.com if you have any queries.
Visit their Emergency Contacts page for information about the Coronavirus. The University has committed to ensuring that disabled students are not disadvantaged by the new teaching or assessment methods, so if you have any concerns about reasonable adjustments to exams or teaching do get in touch with the DRC (and your Tutor). The DRC have also written guidance for supervisors for teaching disabled students online - all colleges should have received these, and they are working on a guide for disabled students to navigate the new teaching and assessment methods.
There will be no face-to-face teaching next term and no examinations will be taking place in Cambridge. We have been working hard to ensure students’ concerns are heard as the University makes alternative arrangements for examinations and assessments. The University has published FAQs on assessment next term on their website. These will be updated as more information becomes available.
The University’s assessment principles can be found in full here. These include:
- The adoption of a ‘safety net’ policy for final-year undergraduate students. Final-year undergraduates will not graduate with a class lower than the one they achieved in the previous year, so long as they pass their assessment this academic year. This is also the case for final-year students on integrated master's programmes that have not adopted a pass/fail approach. However, some courses commonly understood by students to be integrated master's (such as History and Philosophy of Science Part III) are technically stand-alone master's and so do not qualify for the safety-net. We continue to advocate for these students to the university.
- The clarification that first and second year undergraduate students will undertake modified assessments, but, no first- or second-year undergraduate assessment will be classed.
- The commitment that, if students, whatever year of their undergraduate degree, including finalists, and including any postgraduates with a taught element to their degree, are unable to take their modified assessment at the scheduled time in the Easter term, then they will be able to sit these assessments in a second assessment period once the University is operational again. The reasons for this will be self-certified, so students do not need the usual medical evidence for this to apply (it may be needed due to e.g. illness, caring responsibilities or technical difficulties).
- Students who are eligible to be classed but who are unable to take any assessment either in the first or second assessment period, or only some of the assessment, or students who are otherwise affected by serious medical or other grave cause will be considered by the Exams, Access and Mitigations Committee for an examination allowance, for example DDH (Deemed to have Deserved Honours).
All faculties and departments should now be getting in touch with their students to outline the way these principles will apply in their subject. If students have specific concerns about this, or have not yet heard from their faculty, we would recommend getting in touch with their academic reps, or emailing their Heads of Schools.
All students can also apply for reasonable adjustments, such as rest breaks or extra time, if they feel they will be disadvantaged by the altered assessments proposed by faculties and departments. To apply, talk to your College Tutor or Senior Tutor. Students with more complicated needs or with a disability might want to apply for an Alternative Modes of Assessment (AMA) which would change the nature of the assessment itself (for example, from an examination to a portfolio of essays). Again, you should go through your College Tutor if you want to apply for an AMA.
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.
- Any student who has a taught element of their course is covered by the assessment principles outlined in the section on ‘Exams, Assessment and Submission’ and on the University website. You should have received an email from your faculty or department to outline the way these principles will apply in their subject. In the cases where students also have a research element to their course (e.g. many MPhil courses), these adjusted assessments should take into account difficulties you may have completing this.
- Purely research students (e.g. those doing PhDs) should be able to extend their submission date if needed. Check our tab on ‘Support for postgraduate research students’ below and the specific University guidance for more information.
- Postgraduate students can also apply for reasonable adjustments if they feel they will be disadvantaged by the altered assessments proposed by faculties and departments. Contact your Tutor, Graduate Tutor, or Senior Tutor for more advice.
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 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.
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.
The Special Hardship Fund – this fund will assess rolling applications submitted by College Senior Tutors (or their nominated representative) on behalf of students. It will cover unexpected, direct and immediate costs as a result of Coronavirus e.g. cost of flights, computing equipment etc. Intermitting students can also access this fund. An updated Special Hardship Fund application form can be found here and should be used during this period - you should apply to this via your Tutor or Senior Tutor.
The Postgraduate Hardship Fund – For help with long term financial needs such as maintenance and rental costs MPhil and PhD students can access this fund. It will run monthly rounds of applications, with the first round opening on 9 April. Applications for maintenance/stipend, help with rent and support for PhD extensions should be directed here.
The Bell, Abbott and Barnes fund – For help with long term financial needs such as maintenance and rental costs Undergraduate, Clinical medics and part III students can access this fund. It will run monthly rounds of applications. The first round will open in Mid May.
Childcare Funds – For help with childcare or related costs all student parents can access this fund. It will run in rounds, with the first round opening on 9 April.
Crane’s Charity – This fund is still running for those in need of support with mental wellbeing - it considers applications on a rolling basis.
Please note that Student Loans and the Cambridge Bursary Scheme will operate as normal next term.
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
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.
Return to work in Cambridge: Remote working remains the default position for those who can do so, including postgraduate research students. Safety is the first priority, and nobody should return to work until they have received an explicit indication from their Head of Institution or Head of Group to do so. If you feel pressured to return to work, including by your supervisor, you should speak to your College Tutor or contact the Students' Unions' Advice Service (see below).
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.
The University Counselling Service is offering online consultations (either by phone or Zoom) for all previously booked and new appointments. From 6th April they will also be offering video calls, depending on what students prefer. You can apply for counselling in the usual way via the form on their website: https://www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/studentcouns
College Based Counselling will be active from the 14th April and where possible will be delivered by the existing counsellors for those Colleges.
The Counselling Service's Mental Health Advisors are also offering crisis, emotional and practical support and intervention, over audio or video sessions on Zoom. You can get a referral from your college nurse, a college chaplain or any tutor.
The Sexual Assault and Harassment Advisor is currently offering emotional and practical support as normal, over audio or video sessions on Zoom. If it’s difficult for students to find a safe space at home for an audio or video call, the SAHA can offer a 30 minute live chat (via the messenger function) session on Zoom. Contact email@example.com or fill in the form on their website to book an appointment.For the most up to date information, check the UCS website www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/general
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
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12pm-2pm by phone.
Email email@example.com 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.