This section provides general guidance that is applicable for all students. For more specific information regarding your particular cohort, please see the undergraduate or postgraduate student pages. Assessment information can be found in the assessment section.
The University and Colleges of Cambridge are preparing to welcome students – undergraduate and postgraduate – to Cambridge for the academic year 2020/21. We remain committed to excellence in education, learning and research.
Colleges are looking forward to welcoming students into residence and are making preparations for teaching, welfare, social and extra-curricular activities during the year ahead. Every College remains proud to be their students’ Cambridge home, and is working with student representatives to ensure that induction and welcome events in the autumn give new students the information and support they will need as they join their College community.
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic we will seek to mitigate risks to health by applying social distancing and other government guidelines and continuing to respond to the changing public health situation through appropriate changes to our courses, services and facilities. Where official guidance or concerns for the health of students and staff demand it, we will review our approach.
As teaching, assessment and support services will continue to be available remotely through Easter Term, tuition fees will be due.
This position is in line with that of the Department for Education and with Universities UK, which has stated that ‘where there is wide-ranging support for active and ongoing learning and progression, students should not expect any fee refund from their university’.
Cambridge will be open to students next academic year. We will do all we reasonably can to accommodate the needs of students whose individual circumstances mean that they cannot attend any in-person teaching (more information here).
The academic year will start as normal and term dates will not be changed. Michaelmas Term will start on Tuesday 6 October and end on Friday 4 December, although some postgraduate courses may start earlier as previously advertised. New and returning undergraduate and postgraduate students are advised to be flexible in their travel plans at this stage; more advice about arrangements for the start of term will be provided during July.
Teaching will be delivered by a blend of in-person and online teaching, and we will adapt our timetables, teaching methods, course content and locations for delivery of teaching to achieve this. The balance of the blend will depend on the stringency of social distancing and other regulations in force at the time. Where possible, teaching by seminars, practicals, and supervisions will be delivered in person, and it may even be possible for lectures to smaller groups to be given on this basis. In any case, all lectures will be recorded and made available online. If large-scale lecturing in person becomes permissible, the University will reintroduce it as soon as possible.
Research and learning facilities: it is our aim that all students who require it for their studies will have sufficient and suitable access to research laboratories, libraries, museums and other facilities, subject to the restrictions of social distancing.
Minimising risk: All University and College buildings will be risk-assessed and managed on an ongoing basis, following UK Government guidelines and advice. This may involve managing how we all enter and leave buildings to allow for social distancing, reducing numbers of people allowed into a building or area, appropriate cleaning regimes, altered timings of events and any other measures considered appropriate to mitigate risk of exposure to COVID-19. We will promote health and infection control measures across the entire University, and communicate and implement changes to any of these measures resulting from local-lockdown requirements as required.
Accommodation: As many students as possible will be given accommodation in their own College. The Colleges and the University are working closely together to help all our students find accommodation within the University or in Cambridge.
Support: As well as teaching, Colleges offer a home environment and pastoral support to their students; the University additionally provides centralised student support, including the Student Counselling Service, Disability Resource Centre, Careers Service, support for mature students, student parents and care leavers. These services will continue to be provided, either in person or via real time face-to-face technology. For more information on our welfare support, see www.studentwellbeing.admin.cam.ac.uk and your College’s website.
The majority of Cambridge University Libraries are operating remotely and many of their services are available online with your Raven password. The University Library (UL) is open Monday-Friday for limited services such as click and collect, scan and deliver and returning books. The first phase of reopening to readers is underway at the UL; staff and students may request that specific non-borrowable items are fetched, and then arrange an appointment to come into one of the University Library reading rooms to consult them.
For more information, and to read about the plans for a phased reopening, visit the Library website.
For information on assessment arrangements, please visit the assessment page.
Your Faculty or Department is likely to use Moodle to help set work and assessment.
Moodle is available globally to all University of Cambridge staff and students, using their CRSid and Raven password. All you need to access Moodle is a computer, tablet or smartphone with an appropriate browser.
If you need help and support using Moodle, you can use the drop-down list of Help topics on the top right of all Moodle pages.
For further help contact the Moodle help desk.
This usually operates 9am-5pm (UK time), Monday to Friday, excluding UK Bank Holiday and University closures. During the coronavirus pandemic, some delays are possible due to illness and increased demand.
If you are unhappy with your learning experience or assessment results, you are entitled to raise a formal complaint with the University.
The normal 28-day time limit for raising a complaint will not apply in relation to complaints arising from the impact of coronavirus. This will allow you to defer making a complaint until after the results of assessments are known.
All students will be informed in Easter Term of the procedures and deadlines for raising complaints relating to coronavirus.
Students who find themselves in unexpected financial need due to coronavirus can apply to University Hardship Funds:
Special Hardship Fund — All students, including intermitting students, can access this fund. It will cover unexpected, direct and immediate costs as a result of Coronavirus that can be evidenced, for example cost of flights.
Childcare Funds — For help with childcare costs, all parent students can access this fund, which will run in rounds.
Crane’s Charity — For help to those in need of support with mental or physical wellbeing. Applications are considered on a rolling basis.
Bell, Abbot and Barnes — For help with long-term financial needs such as maintenance and rental costs. (for undergraduates, clinical medics and part III students only)
The Postgraduate Hardship Fund —For help with long-term financial needs such as maintenance and rental costs (for MPhil and PhD students only)
As the Special Hardship Fund has received a high volume of applications, you should also speak to your College Tutor and explore all other available support such as:
- Departmental Funding
- Funding agencies
- Your College’s Hardship Funds
- The Alternative Guide to Funding (for postgraduate students only)
No in-person Congregations will take place until further notice. This will affect graduation ceremonies scheduled for the rest of the 2019/2020 academic year and potentially beyond.
During this period, we are putting in place exceptional measures that will allow the University to continue conferring degrees. Students who meet the requirements of their course will be able to graduate in absentia (in absence).
If you choose to graduate in absentia, it will not be possible to attend a future graduation ceremony.
The University and the Colleges recognise the importance of celebrating students' achievements in a fitting way. For students who graduate in absence because of the pandemic, the University and Colleges’ Congregations Working Group has adopted the key principle of seeking to offer a ceremony in the Senate House that will be as close as possible to the usual in-person graduation. Our aim is to make it possible for students to reunite in their College and to process together to the Senate House in academic dress, where those still to graduate will have their degrees conferred and those who have graduated in absence will have their degrees celebrated in a similar way. How soon this can happen will depend on when large gatherings are again possible, but in the hope that this could take place next year, the Working Group is consulting with Colleges on a range of potential dates for 2021.
If you do not wish to graduate in absentia and would rather defer graduation until in-person Degree Congregations can resume as usual, you should contact your College Praelector. Please be aware that in-person Congregations may not resume for some time.
You will not be able to obtain a degree certificate without graduating (in absence or in person). However, if you have fulfilled the requirements of your course, you can still claim to have completed your degree and obtain a transcript to confirm this.
Transcripts for degrees awarded during the COVID-19 period will include brief wording explaining that the candidate undertook alternative assessments, and provide a link to a fuller explanation of the nature of the assessment, hosted on the CamData website.
Paper copies of certificates and transcripts for everyone who has graduated in absence during the lockdown period will be produced and posted as soon as staff are able to do this. A subscription service to Digitary allows you to access an electronic version of your official transcript, which can be shared online with other organisations such as employers or other educational institutions.
We understand that many of you may be concerned about the impact of coronavirus on your career plans.
The Careers Service is still operating remotely and is ready to help you with your queries. You can book an appointment to speak with a Careers Adviser via phone or Skype or use the chat functions on the Careers Service website and social media accounts.
In addition to 1:1 advice, the Careers Service website and blog has lots of resources and support available including:
- Coronavirus-specific advice
- How to prepare for interviews, video interviews and assessment centres
- Developing employability skills from home
If you already have work experience, an internship or a graduate job confirmed for later in the year, we recommend contacting the organisation to find out their current position.
If you are in need of further guidance, please first consult the general University coronavirus pages to see if your query can be answered.
If you are still in need of further advice then you should reach out in the following ways:
- For questions about assessments or online teaching, please contact your Faculty or Departmental Teaching Office, or your Director of Studies.
- For questions about pastoral care, welfare, finance and counselling contact your College via Tutor or Senior Tutors.
- Postgraduates should approach their Supervisor, Course Director or Graduate Tutor, as appropriate.
Please be aware that some staff might be unavailable due to illness, caring for dependents or working non-standard hours due to caring responsibilities. They may also be dealing with a high volume of queries.
Every effort will be made to reply to your questions but staff may not be able to provide an immediate response.
If you receive an out-of-office message, you should contact generic Faculty, Departmental and College email addresses. These will continue to be monitored.