Study, work or volunteer placements abroad

Information about changes to work, study or volunteer placements abroad during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is changing rapidly. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice has been updated to advise against all non-essential travel worldwide.

This page contains information for:

Students currently on placements abroad

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice has been updated to advise against all non-essential travel worldwide. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.

We follow the advice of the FCO, and as such we strongly recommend that you return home. This advice includes students of all nationalities, but you should check first with the government and consular advice of your home country.

Advice on how to return home

The Foreign Commonwealth Office have provided the following guidance on returning home:

  • contact your airline, travel company or transport provider as soon as possible to book your travel;
  • if you have travel insurance, you should also contact your insurance company;
  • consider a range of options: you may need to travel to another country to get back to the UK/home. Check foreign office travel advice for the latest information on any travel restrictions that could affect your travel plans;
  • keep up-to-date with the foreign office travel advice, and in particular the ‘Return to the UK’ guidance for each country;
  • sign-up to email alerts to be notified if the situation changes;
  • check the foreign office social media accounts for where you are;
  • be prepared that your plans may need to change at short notice.

Financial assistance

Immediate financial assistance

If you need immediate financial assistance in order to pay for your return travel, please contact our insurance team ( with a copy to and

The insurance team will be able to arrange for a member of staff to book travel for you if required. They will also assist you with any insurance claim (in due course). If your claim is not eligible for insurance, we will cover reasonable travel costs incurred through early/unplanned repatriation by the most appropriate route. Please keep copies of all receipts.

Longer term financial assistance

If you have longer term concerns about your financial situation, please contact the University's Financial Assistance Programme, and the team will be able to provide advice.

Urgent assistance

If you have followed the advice above, are still unable to find a return flight home and need urgent assistance please contact the University's UMAL Global Response team:

Phone: +44 (0)2920 662425


Reference: UMAL/165

International students

If you are an international student who is currently abroad on a Cardiff University placement and have queries about re-entering the UK, please contact the International Student Support Team at For queries relating to re-entering your home country, you should follow your country’s government advice and contact them with any queries you might have.

Remaining in your host country

We appreciate that many of you are now finding it difficult to book your return travel home, or that you may feel safer staying on placement. You may be anxious about travelling home, or have concerns about where to return to once in the UK/your home country.

Should you remain in your host country, you should be fully aware of the increased risks of doing so. That includes the risk that you may not be able to get home for the foreseeable future if additional travel restrictions are put in place. You must pay close attention to advice and information issued to you by your host institution/organisation, as well as the local government.

Informing the University

The University are requesting that you contact them (by emailing as soon as possible to confirm:

  • if you are returning home, and the dates of your anticipated travel
  • if your personal circumstances require you to stay overseas, please confirm that you are safe where you are (are able to stay in your accommodation, have access to health insurance in country), and that you’ll continue to carefully follow local and government advice.

Student support and wellbeing resources

We would like to remind you that whilst you may be abroad, you are still a registered Cardiff University student and therefore have access to all the support services, should you wish to use them.

Arriving back in the UK

Getting home from the airport

If you are arriving in the UK from a country where the FCO advice is to self-isolate, the advice from the Department of Health and Social Care is to avoid contact with other people and to stay indoors.

You should check with your airline/airport as to whether they have issued any advice about onward travel from the area to which you are returning. You should avoid the use of public transport.

Where should I self-isolate when I return to the UK?

We recommend that you return to the place you normally live for the duration of the period of self-isolation if this is an option. This may be the home of a parent or guardian. You should follow official NHS advice on self-isolation and what to do if you develop symptoms.

If someone at home is a person who is more vulnerable to the virus (e.g. has a pre-existing medical condition), please talk to your next of kin about options. If you are unable to return to the home of a parent or guardian, or have any concerns about where best to stay during this period, you can contact the University and they will help you.

Impact on degree progression

Academic Schools are alert to the situation and will be in touch at an appropriate time to advise you of the specific measures being put in place to minimise the impact on degree progression due to inability to complete study or work placements abroad and support your continued learning and degree progression.

This will focus on providing you with opportunities to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes for your programme of study.

Contacting the Global Opportunities team

In response to the recent guidance issued by the UK Government regarding coronavirus (COVID-19), the Global Opportunities team are working remotely and will be responding to all enquiries via email.

Our working hours are 09:00-16:30, Monday to Friday, and this inbox will be monitored during these times.



Information for students currently engaged in an Erasmus+ programme or placements planned as a graduate.

Returning home from your placement

If you have returned home from your placement, after meeting the minimum duration, and you can continue to engage with your work and study remotely then you will be eligible to receive 100% of your Erasmus+ grant. You will need to continue to meet the learning outcomes as set out in your Learning Agreement, and submit all relevant forms at the end of your placement.

Should your placement dates change, for example due to your host university ending term early, you must update the Erasmus Team at Grant calculations are worked out on a daily basis, so it is very important you provide accurate dates.

Returning home before meeting the minimum duration

You will be eligible to receive funding for the days that you were abroad, even if this was less than the usual 60 or 90 day minimum duration.

If you are continuing to engage with your study or work placement and are able to meet the learning outcomes as set out in your Learning Agreement, and submit all relevant forms, you will be eligible to receive 100% of your Erasmus+ grant for your placement duration.

Returning home with no online provision from your host university or organisation

If you are unable to continue your studies or work online now that you have returned home, according to Erasmus regulations, you would only be eligible to receive funding for the real time spent abroad. However, the University has agreed to cover the first 70% of your grant allocation, so you will not need to repay any funding you have already received, unless you never started your placement abroad.

You may be eligible to receive reimbursements for any extra costs incurred which have not been covered by your Erasmus grant funding, like flights and accommodation, if you have been unable to recoup these costs from the airline, accommodation provider or insurance company. These requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Please email with a full explanation and proof of requests for reimbursement, including confirmation that you are not eligible for a refund from insurance (see section below – Additional expenses incurred).

Remaining in your host country

If you are currently abroad and unable to return home due to travel restrictions, you will only be eligible to receive the Erasmus+ grant for the duration of your study or work placement.

If you have had to extend your stay abroad past the end date of your placement, and are therefore no longer working or studying remotely, you will not be eligible to receive further funding for those days.

You will not be able to extend your placement if you have chosen to stay in your host country, even though you are currently able to return home. Following the most recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice, we have contacted all students to strongly recommend that you return home. Therefore, we would not be willing to approve the extension of your placement, unless the FCO advice changes.

Erasmus+ grant

You will have received 70% of your Erasmus+ grant at the start of your placement. You will not have to repay any of this amount, no matter how long you have spent abroad, so long as you complete, sign and return all of the relevant Erasmus+ documentation.

If you received the 70% grant, but did not start your placement, you will need to repay this advance payment. The Erasmus team will be in contact with you if you are in this position.

If you are due any additional funding (remaining 30% of the Erasmus+ grant, or a proportion of this) you will be eligible to receive this so long as you continue to engage with work or learning and assessment and are able to meet the regulations of the Erasmus+ programme. The Erasmus team will be in touch with you in relation to any outstanding Erasmus+ documents. Once all relevant documentation has been returned, the team will be able to confirm whether you are eligible for a second payment.

Additional expenses incurred

You may be eligible to receive a contribution towards any additional costs incurred as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. For example, changing your flight and booking earlier travel home, or for accommodation if you have paid for longer than you were able to remain in the country if these are not covered by your Erasmus grant funding.

You should first contact your travel and/or accommodation provider to find out whether they will reimburse any costs or let you out of an accommodation contract early. If they are unable to reimburse or refund the full cost, please contact with details of any additional costs, and proof of any reimbursement or attempt to reimburse costs. Please copy in on any such correspondence.

If an insurance claim has been unsuccessful, please send evidence of any additional costs that are still outstanding to Reimbursement of additional costs will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

All requests for reimbursement must be submitted by 30 June 2020. We advise you contact insurance as soon as possible as the claims process may take some time.

Postponing a future graduate placement

You will still receive your Erasmus+ funding as long as your postponed placement start date is within 18 months of your graduation date.

Students due to go on placements

This information is for students due to go on placements imminently as part of the 2019/20 academic year, or those who are planning to take part in an international summer programme this year.

All student field trips and placements outside the UK have been cancelled or postponed until further notice. Students are asked to contact their Schools or Global Opportunities to consider mitigations.

Students considering placements for the 2020/21 academic year

Our position is to follow Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice. The FCO currently advises against all but essential travel anywhere worldwide. We appreciate that the situation and FCO advice has, and is likely to, continue to change and will almost certainly be different at the points you may need to make decisions and by the start date of your international placement.

The Global Opportunities team are monitoring the situation and will update this information as changes are known and understood. If you have a question that is not covered below please contact and we will do our best to get back to you.

Applications for Autumn 2020

We advise that you continue with your application and preparations for your international placement. You should carefully follow guidance from your host institution or organisation, particularly in relation to whether they are still able to accept students from the UK on placement during 2020/21.

Application deadlines and instructions may have been updated so it is best to check directly with your host. If you are taking part in an international exchange or Erasmus+ placement, Global Opportunities, or your Academic School, will contact your host institution to find out about any changes in application dates.

Travel arrangements

You should not book any travel at this time as we do not know if or when international travel restrictions will be lifted. If you book travel now it will not be covered by the University insurance.


When deciding whether to book accommodation in the country where your placement will be you should follow the advice of your host institution or organisation.

If you can reserve accommodation without a security deposit then you may wish to do so. If a security deposit is required it may be advisable to wait until relevant travel restrictions are lifted. Your host institution or accommodation provider should be able to advise whether a refund of any deposit will be possible.


Visa information and requirements are country specific. They can be complicated and subject to regular change, particularly as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on international travel. You should always check the official immigration instructions from your destination country. These instructions are normally available through the host university and/or the government website of the country you plan to travel to.

As a student you are personally responsible for obtaining and maintaining your immigration status for a placement abroad. Where we provide support to you every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information we provide. However, Cardiff University accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions.

Making visa applications

You can normally apply for your visa after you have been either formally accepted or invited to undertake a placement at a host institution. The institution should advise you when to proceed with your visa application. You may need documentation from the institution in order to proceed with your application.

You should be aware that as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic many visa processing centres around the world have suspended issuing visas, or are offering very limited services with delay times in processing.

You may need to wait for your host country to begin issuing visas again and/or be prepared for a delay in processing times. This differs from country to country and it is likely that a future relaxing of travel restrictions will vary from country to country as time moves on.

If you have any questions about visa processing times and services available you should seek advice directly from the host country’s government/embassy. As a student you are personally responsible for obtaining and maintaining your immigration status for a placement abroad.

Suspensions or delays in issuing visas

If your host country has suspended issuing visas you will not be able to apply for your visa until these services resume. You should be prepared for a possible backlog in your host country issuing visas, and there may be a delay in receiving your visa.

You should seek advice directly from your host country’s government or embassy regarding how long it may take to receive your visa. When you are able to apply for your visa you will need to consider how a delay in processing times will impact you if you do not receive your visa in time for the start of your placement.

Cardiff University advises against booking any travel until you have received your visa.

If you are concerned that you have not received your visa in time for your placement you should contact your host institution as soon as possible. They will be able to advise if they can offer you a slightly delayed start date to allow you more time to obtain your visa. If they are unable to offer this, or you receive your visa far beyond your start date you will be unable to undertake the placement.

If you require a student/work/research visa (or similar) to enter your host country for your placement, you will not be able to enter your host country without this visa. You should be aware that entering the host country on the wrong visa (for example, as a general visitor) may cause complications, and you may be refused entry at the host country’s border. You should seek advice directly from your host country’s government or embassy for further information on this.

Reclaiming costs of visa applications

If you have paid for your visa application and are unable to take up your international placement the University has agreed to meet these costs should they arise, provided you have followed the advice you have been given (such as on when to apply).

You should ensure that you keep a copy of all expenses relating to your visa application (including health insurance if this is a mandatory part of the visa application process).

Please email for further guidance if you find yourself in this situation.

International students due to undertake Erasmus+ placements

Any student who is not travelling on a British passport should check the official immigration instructions, available through the host university and host country government websites, about the visa regulations and procedures pertaining to citizens of their home country.

It is your responsibility to ensure that this in completed in good time. However, there may be delays with the processing of visas under the current circumstances. You may need to wait for your host country to begin issuing visas again and/or be prepared for a longer than usual delay in them processing your visa. If you have any questions about visa waiting times and services available, you should seek advice directly from the host country’s government or embassy.

Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410



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