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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Year Abroad FAQs in response to COVID-19 disruption

FAQs for students currently on their Year Abroad (2020-2021)

Sources of support

See p. 2 of the Year Abroad Handbook for a schematic breakdown of the respective responsibilities of the MMLL Faculty and Colleges to students on their Year Abroad.


Q: Who will support me with administrative issues arising from the coronavirus outbreak?

The Year Abroad Office and Director. They have responsibility for the clerical and administrative aspects of the Year Abroad, including the provision of documents and certificates for insurance, advice on ECT credits, internship contracts, risk assessment, etc. Please email


Q: Who will provide me with academic advice and support?

Your college Director of Studies. All MMLL DoSes have been contacted outlining the kinds of measures the Faculty, in dialogue with student representatives, are considering with respect to the Year Abroad Project, Part II Oral Examinations, and other academic implications (on which see more below). Your DoS knows your individual academic trajectory better than anyone, and is best placed to offer support as you consider the implications for your academic plans at Part II.


Q: Who will provide me with emotional support?

Pastoral support for Year Abroad students is the responsibility of your college Tutor and, where appropriate, college Nurse. In addition, the University Counselling Service is offering telephone or video welfare checks for any student who would like them, including Year Abroad students (whether now at home or still abroad). Please see the UCS coronavirus webpage​ for details of how to sign up.


Q: Who is best placed to offer financial support?

Your College in the first instance, along with your travel and/or medical insurance provider. For additional sources of financial support, see under ‘Finance’ below.


Q: Where can I find the latest University guidance on the coronavirus outbreak?

The University Advice Page on Coronavirus is regularly updated with information on health, revised teaching and examination arrangements, travel, and more.

Returning to the UK


Q: Should I return to the UK if I am still abroad?

Yes. The FCO coronavirus travel page was updated on 31 March 2020 to state that all UK citizens are ‘strongly advised’ to return home. The University’s Covid-Gold Team (Vice Chancellor and Pro-Vice Chancellors) have reiterated this advice to all Cambridge students currently abroad. Substantial financial and other measures have been put in place to mitigate some of the difficulties that may result (see under ‘Finance’ below). Please note, though: your ability to recover costs through insurance may depend on your compliance with FCO travel advice.


Q: Can I return to my College?

All colleges are running with reduced staff as a result of the outbreak, and are able to offer only skeleton provision. Some are providing accommodation in certain exceptional circumstances where students are unable to return to the family home. Please approach your college if you feel this applies to you.


Q: Can I go back to my host country this academic year if the situation improves?

In the unlikely event that things return to normal within an appropriate timeframe, yes. But note that any plans to do so must be consistent with FCO travel advice.

Finance and reimbursement


Q: Can I claim for any expenses incurred on my travel or health insurance?

This will depend on your insurer. Please check their terms. In the meantime, ensure that you keep all travel and other relevant receipts (electronic receipts are usually fine) in case you want to make a future claim. Please also note that your ability to recover costs through your insurer may depend on your compliance with FCO travel advice.


Q: Will I continue to receive my Erasmus mobility grant?

It depends. If you are able to continue an Erasmus work or study placement remotely (online), you will still receive the Erasmus grant even if mobility has ceased and you have returned to the UK. If you discontinue the work or study activity, your eligibility for the grant will lapse and you may be required to return any payment made for mobility not undertaken. Please see the Erasmus+ website for details.


Q: Will I continue to receive my Student Loan?

Despite the interruption to your Year Abroad you are still registered as students at the University of Cambridge and are therefore still entitled to your Student Loan. Please note that since you have returned to the UK this may be paid at the slightly lower rate that applies to home students.

The Student Loans Company have indicated that all students will receive their next or scheduled payment of their Maintenance Loan at the planned start of their summer term, regardless of whether their university has made alternative arrangements for teaching.


Q: Other than my insurers and my College, what sources of financial support are available?

The University recognises that students may be experiencing varying levels of financial hardship as a result of the outbreak, and is keen to support you where this has arisen through additional costs. For Year Abroad students these might include such things as: unusually high return air or rail fares, early termination of rental agreements, packaging and postal fees for return of belongings where these have not been able to be collected in person, and so on. Please note that a standard priced air fare home (for example) would not be regarded as an additional cost, as this is a return journey you would have had to make anyway at the end of your Year Abroad.

The most important sources of financial assistance, both within the University and outside, are listed below:

  • The Special University Hardship Fund receives applications for additional costs of up to £3,350. Applications must be made through the Senior Tutor of your College. For more details, please see the University’s student pages on Financial Support and Covid-19.
  • Cranes Charity exists to support unexpected medical costs incurred by students facing financial hardship.
  • Erasmus+ may be able to offer financial reimbursement in cases of additional costs (for example accommodation costs incurred for longer than the duration of the actual time spent on mobility). Please see the Erasmus+ website for details.
  • The Student Loans Company are still in discussion with government over whether travel grant entitlement will be affected for students who have had to return early to the UK because of coronavirus. Please keep an eye on the Student Loans Company web pages for updates.


Q: What will happen to my Erasmus funds if I achieve less than the anticipated 30 credits?

No student whose Erasmus final examinations are negatively impacted by issues relating to coronavirus (and/or disability and mental health issues), and who therefore receives less than the anticipated 30 credits (but who has pursued at least 30 credits’ worth of study overall throughout the year), will have to pay back any Erasmus funds due to having not passed those exams.