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Advice on exceptional circumstances affecting your ability to study in Cambridge

The University is a residential institution and all full-time students are required to be in residence in Cambridge, unless they are on a year abroad as part of their course, or they are research students who have been given leave to work away. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the University instigated a policy that enabled students to study remotely in exceptional circumstances. This policy is in place until the end of Lent Term. From the beginning of Easter Term, due to the improved situation on COVID-19, this policy will no longer be in place, and normal residency requirements will apply.

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If you are unable to fulfil the normal residency requirements of your course, please talk to your Tutor (for undergraduates and taught postgraduate students) and to your College and Department (for research students).

Guidance for students on full-time matriculated programmes (Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught) – Lent Term 2021-22 (Valid until the end of Lent Term 2022)

The University is a residential institution and the expectation is that all full-time students on matriculated courses should be in residence in Cambridge in 2021-22, unless there are exceptional reasons why this would not be possible. The Colleges and University will consider a health condition where an individual is more susceptible to infectious diseases and who has not yet been vaccinated, or where the student is unable to travel to Cambridge as described below, as potentially ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Health reasons

Students with a health condition where an individual is more susceptible to infectious diseases and who has not yet been vaccinated, or in whom the effectiveness of vaccination is likely to be significantly reduced, may be approved to study remotely if this is feasible for their programme of study. Students will be expected to attend in Cambridge once they have been fully vaccinated.

Students who need to study remotely temporarily for Lent Term 2021 for this reason should contact their College to request remote study and will need to provide satisfactory medical evidence if it has not previously been provided.

Any other student who has concerns about returning to Cambridge because of an underlying health condition are advised to contact their College which will work through a risk assessment with them and discuss options.

The College which receives a request for remote study will refer to the relevant Department/Faculty which will advise whether remote study temporarily is possible. If it is determined that remote study is appropriate, a period of remote study will be confirmed. Students on MPhil and MRes programmes will also need to submit an application to work away through their CamSIS self-service.

Students who hold a Tier 4 or Student visa should also read the information under ‘Student visas’ at the end of this guidance.

Inability to travel

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Travel disruption due to Covid-19 may affect some students’ ability to be in Cambridge for the start of Lent Term, however the University expects students to make every reasonable effort to arrive. International students experiencing difficulties travelling to Cambridge due to travel restrictions may request temporary permission to study remotely. The requirement to quarantine on arrival in the UK, if travelling from overseas, will not be accepted as a valid reason for seeking permission to study remotely.

Students wishing to request temporary permission to study remotely should initially make the request through their College. Approval is likely to be granted only for a defined and limited period but further short-term extensions may be granted on a rolling basis should travel restrictions continue. This request should not be made, and cannot be considered, until September.

If a student has symptoms of Covid-19, has received a positive test result, or is self-isolating for any reason (such as being in contact with someone with Covid-19, or having travelled abroad), they should not travel to Cambridge. In this circumstance, they should contact their College to discuss remote study until their period of self-isolation is completed.

Permission to study remotely because of the reasons above will be granted for a limited period of at most one term at a time, and the arrangement will be kept under active review by the College and the student’s Faculty or Department. If arrangements for remote study are not working satisfactorily other options, such as intermission, will be considered. Students who hold a Tier 4 or Student visa should also read the information under ‘Student visas’ at the end of this guidance.

Applications for remote study that do not meet the criteria above will not be approved, even if the application is supported by a student’s Course Director. A preference to remain away from Cambridge or a reluctance to return owing to concerns about the spread of Covid-19 are not appropriate reasons for approval to study remotely. Students who experience hardship as a consequence of the costs of travelling to Cambridge may apply to hardship funds, as normal.

Guidance for students on research programmes (Doctoral and Master’s by Thesis and Oral) – Lent Term 2021-22 (Valid until the end of Lent Term 2022)

The University is a residential institution and the expectation is that all full-time matriculated students should be in residence in Cambridge in 2021-22, unless there are exceptional reasons why this would not be possible. The Colleges and University will consider the following to be potentially exceptional circumstances:

  1. a student is at increased susceptibility to infectious diseases and is not yet vaccinated
  2. inability to travel to Cambridge
  3. restricted access to facilities because of safety measures.

Permission to work remotely because of the reasons above will normally be granted for a limited period of at most one term at a time, and the arrangement will be kept under active review by the College and the Faculty or Department. If arrangements for remote working are not working satisfactorily other options, such as intermission, will need to be considered.

Students who hold a Tier 4 or Student visa should also read the information under ‘Student visas’ at the end of this guidance.

Health reasons

Students with a health condition where an individual is more susceptible to infectious diseases and who has not yet been vaccinated, or in whom the effectiveness of vaccination is likely to be significantly reduced, may be permitted to study remotely if this is possible in their area of research. Students will be expected to attend in Cambridge once they have been fully vaccinated.

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Students who for this reason wish to seek approval to study remotely for Lent Term, should contact their College. They will need to provide satisfactory medical evidence if it has not previously been provided. Any other student who has concerns about returning to Cambridge because of an underlying health condition are advised to contact their College which will work through a risk assessment with them and discuss options.

The College will refer to the relevant Department/Faculty which will advise whether remote study for the full term is possible. If, after consultation with the Faculty or Department, it is determined that remote study is appropriate, the student should make an application to work away using CamSIS self-service.

Inability to travel

Travel disruption due to Covid-19 may affect some students’ ability to be to Cambridge for the start of Lent Term, however the University expects students to make every reasonable effort to arrive. International students experiencing difficulties travelling to Cambridge due to travel restrictions may request temporary permission to study remotely. The requirement to quarantine on arrival in the UK, if travelling from overseas, will not be accepted as a valid reason for seeking permission to study remotely.

Full-time research students wishing to request permission to arrive late should make their request by email through their Department/Faculty (via their Supervisor). Approval for late arrival is likely to be granted only for a defined and limited period but further short-term extensions may be granted on a rolling basis if travel restrictions continue.

If a student has symptoms of Covid-19, has received a positive test result, or is self-isolating for any reason (such as being a contact with someone with Covid-19, or having travelled abroad), they should not travel to Cambridge. In this circumstance they should contact their College to discuss remote study until their period of self-isolation is completed.

Access to University facilities

Research students can apply to work away from Cambridge if their access to University facilities is restricted due to building closures or social distancing measures. Applications will be approved where the supervisor confirms that access to facilities is restricted and:

  1. it is clear that remote working is in the best interests of the student and their study;
  2. the student is working at an institution or organisation elsewhere, or is able to work remotely to the satisfaction of their Supervisor and Department/Faculty without the need for additional provision (such as off-site software licences);
  3. appropriate remote supervision arrangements can be put in place; and
  4. the application is supported by both the student’s College and Degree Committee.

Students should submit an application to work away. Through the application process Supervisors will be asked to confirm that access is limited and that points 1-3 above can be met.

Applications made for other reasons

Applications to work away made on the grounds of Covid-19 which do not meet the criteria above will not be approved. This includes applications made on the grounds of finance, convenience, preference to reside elsewhere, or reluctance to reside in Cambridge due to Covid-19. This is the case even if your application is supported by your supervisor and/or Department/Faculty. Students who experience hardship as a consequence of the costs of travelling to Cambridge may apply to hardship funds, as normal.

Applications to work away for fieldwork, writing up or for another reason should continue to be made in the usual way. Further guidance is available on the Cambridge students website.

Student visas

There will be no visa implications for students who hold a Tier 4 or Student visa and are approved to study remotely in Lent Term. Under a temporary Home Office concession, the University can continue to provide visa sponsorship if a student is continuing to engage with studies from overseas. This visa concession has been extended until 30 June 2022 but the Collegiate University position for Easter Term requires students to be in residence in Cambridge unless on a year abroad or undertaking related activity permitted under the Leave to Work Away procedures such as fieldwork. Any international students requiring further information on this should contact the International Student Office.

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