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Working away due to Coronavirus/covid-19

The University is a residential institution and the expectation is that all full time students on degree-level courses should be in residence in Cambridge in 2020-21, unless there are exceptional reasons why this would not be possible.

Information about exceptional circunstances can be found here.

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, we will need to consider other options, such as intermission.

Please note that applications on grounds of covid-19 which do not meet the criteria for exceptional consideration will not be approved by Student Registry. 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.

For some students, working remotely may have an impact on their funding or visa status and are advised to check before a final decision is made on the most appropriate course of action. 

Working Away 

Applying for leave to work away

You apply for leave to work away via your CamSIS self-service. General information on how to apply for a change in your student status is available on the ‘Applying for a change in your student status’ page. Students working at home because of covid-19 will not need to submit a risk assessment.  We appreciate that sections of the application form such as the purpose of your trip will not be fit-for-purpose for applications submitted on grounds of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. Please do not worry about this - simply choose the options which are the closest match and state clearly in your comments that the reason is Coronavirus/covid-19. 

Detailed guidance specifically on how to apply for leave to work away can be found here. A training video can be found here.

Approval to work away can take several weeks, so you should submit your application at least two months before you plan to leave. You cannot apply to work away retrospectively. You must obtain permission to work away before you leave. 

Risk Assessment and insurance

If you are undertaking any part of your studies, including fieldwork, writing up your thesis or completing corrections somewhere other than your home country, you must upload a risk assessment. If you are doing any kind of data collection or fieldwork away from Cambridge, including archival or library-based work, you must complete a risk assessment whatever your location, even if this is your home country.This is to ensure that risks are considered and where possible mitigated before you travel.  Even if you are working away for less than two weeks and therefore do not need to apply for leave to work away, you are strongly advised to still complete a risk assesment to ensure you consider all potential risks of your planned trip. Please contact your Department’s Postgraduate Office for the appropriate risk assessment form.  Useful information on assessing risk and other safeguarding measures can be found at https://www.safeguarding.admin.cam.ac.uk/

If your risk assessment is revised after you have submitted your leave to work away application, but while the application is still pending, your Department will be able to upload a revised risk assessment to your application.

If you are returning home to write up your thesis or to complete corrections, or if you are working away at home because of Coronavirus you do not need to upload a risk assessment but in order to submit your leave to work away application you will need to upload a statement saying that you are not required to upload a risk assessment as you are writing up or completing corrections at home or studying at home due to Coronavirus.

Unless you are returning home to write up your thesis or to complete corrections, you must arrange appropriate insurance to cover your period of working away.   More information about University insurance can be found on the Insurance Section website. You can also find useful information herePlease see above under 'Coronavirus' if you have applied for leave to work away for fieldwork since the start of the pandemic.

When to apply for leave to work away

If you are considering applying for leave to work away because of the covid-19 pandemic, please carefully read the guidance at the top of the page. Applications on grounds of covid-19 which do not meet the criteria for exceptional consideration will not be approved by Student Registry.

Full-time postgraduate students undertaking a research course (such as a PhD) are required to live and study in Cambridge throughout the year, with no breaks between terms. Full-time students who want to study or carry out research away from Cambridge for more than two weeks must apply to ‘work away’. If you are undertaking a placement or internship you need to apply for leave to work away even if you will continue to reside in Cambridge. Full-time students who want to write up their thesis or complete corrections away from Cambridge for more than two weeks must also apply to ‘work away’.

Part time students, who are not required to live in Cambridge, need to apply to work away if they will be studying, carrying out research, writing up or completing corrections away from their normal place of residence during their course for more than two weeks.

Non-research postgraduate students (such as ‘taught MPhil’ students) are expected to live and study in Cambridge during term time, but do have holiday breaks between terms (depending on the requirements of their course).  Students on taught programmes who need to undertake research away from Cambridge for their dissertations for more than two weeks must apply to work away (whether the trip falls during term time or a scheduled 'holiday break').

During your period of research
To work away during your period of research there must be good academic reasons, for example:

  • Undertaking essential fieldwork
  • Completing an internship or placement that is integral to your course or research
  • Completing language training required by your course or integral to your research

PhD and EdD students are unlikely to be given leave to work away until they have successfully completed their first year registration exercise. If you have not yet passed your registration exercise, you should speak to your Degree Committee before submitting an application for leave to work away.

If you are applying for leave to work away due to covid-19 please see the guidance at the top of the page.

When writing up 
You can apply for leave to work away if you wish to return home to finish writing your thesis before submitting. You can also apply for leave to work away if you wish to finish writing up somewhere other than your home country, provided there are good reasons for this. 

When completing corrections to your thesis after examination
If, following your viva voce examination, you are notified by Student Registry that you are required to make corrections or revisions to your thesis, you need to apply for leave to work away if you are planning to complete the corrections outside Cambridge. Please note that working away will not be approved beyond the deadline for submission of your corrections.

Note: You are not required to apply for leave to work away for a period away from Cambridge between submission of your thesis and formal notification by Student Registry of the outcome of your examination. However, please see above for guidance about working on corrections (following formal notification by Student Registry).

You do not need to apply for leave to work away if you are going on holiday. Research students are entitled to eight weeks of holiday per year, to be taken at times agreed with their supervisor. Information about this can be found here. In planning your holidays you are expected to ensure that you still keep term.

If you need to take a break from study because of illness or other reasons, you should read the pages on medical intermission and non-medical intermission.

Residency requirements

All full-time postgraduate students are required to keep at least three of terms of residency in Cambridge in order to be eligible for their degree. This is particularly relevant for students undertaking a one-year MPhil, as it restricts the amount of time they can spend away from Cambridge.

Information about the dates that a student must be in Cambridge in order to keep term can be found here.

Students studying on a Tier 4 visa
If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa, your period of working away will be recorded as an authorised absence. This means that the University does not have to inform the Home Office of the temporary change, but you will be required to maintain your termly contact with your College whilst away.

If you are working away at another location in the UK, you must continue to sign in at your College in person. If you are working away at an overseas location, this contact must be made by e-mail at the start of each term; in this e-mail you should confirm your current circumstances to your College eg.continuing fieldwork overseas or writing up at home.

If you have any queries or concerns regarding your Tier 4 visa you should contact the International Student Office at international.students@admin.cam.ac.uk.