Version 1.0 - Last Updated: 16 Feb 2021

Our COVID-19 questions and answers for higher education providers

Study abroad

Q1: When we submit a CoC, should we suspend the student from the day they returned to the UK, or the day they left the university or college to go into self isolation?

A: If a student is unwell, they have 60 days of automatic support for being absent for health reasons. The illness caused by COVID-19 generally does not last this long, so you should not submit a CoC for suspension or otherwise. You should only submit it if the student has a known long-term illness that will stop them from continuing their studies remotely.

Q2: We have students who cannot complete their year abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will transfer back onto a 3-year degree scheme. This means 'losing' their year abroad and a year of funding entitlement. Will these students be in overpayment or are you likely to take a discretionary approach? Will the student need to follow the Compelling Personal Reasons (CPR) process to request discretionary funding or will you give this automatically?

A: Eligible full-time students who cannot complete this academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will need to retake all or part of the year may qualify for an additional year of support.

The standard entitlement for fee loan support on full-time undergraduate courses is the length of a student’s course, plus one extra year if needed, less any years of previous study.

However, we also make provision for a further year of fee support, in addition to the standard entitlement, in certain circumstances. This may apply if students need to repeat a year of their current course for compelling personal reasons. Students attending an additional year of study also qualify for loans for living costs.

Q3: If we have students who may be eligible for Compelling Personal Reasons (CPR), how do they apply?

A: If a student has already used their extra year of support and needs a further year of funding, then they can apply for CPR. Students should follow the process and guidance about Compelling Personal Reasons on our practitioners website.

If a student needs an additional year of funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you should submit a Repetition CoC. Make sure to include a note to say that the repetition is due to the pandemic. The student will then not need to provide any additional information or evidence.

If the circumstances of the student applying for CPR are not related to the pandemic, the usual process will follow. They will need to provide evidence to support their application.

Q4: A student is undertaking study abroad in AY 2020/21, but doing it from home in the UK initially. How will you calculate their funding?

A: We will assess students for the applicable UK-based maintenance loan rate if they:

  • intend to study abroad later in the academic year
  • are staying in the UK for term 1 and undertaking study with their home university or college

The loan rate they can get depends on their situation for the majority of the term. In the case of an equal split, the student will get the more generous loan rate. This is current policy.

If they then travel abroad later in the academic year (including travel in the latter half of term 1) they will receive abroad rates in terms 2 and 3.

If the duration of study at the home university or college is 10 weeks or more in the academic year, the fees will not be capped at the abroad year rate of £1385. You can request a fee up to £9250.

You can find further placement questions in the Placement chapter of this FAQ.

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