Health and safety while abroad
Your Health and Safety is always a priority for us at Queen Mary, especially while you are abroad.
Considerations when choosing a destination
Our exchange destinations offer a diverse range of cultural and social environments, and you should be aware that societal attitudes and norms can be quite different from those in the UK. These differences are often reflected in the legal environment. You should familiarise yourself with these differences and bear them in mind when deciding for which destinations you would like to apply when completing an application for the Outbound Student Exchange Programme. You need to consider whether you are going to be comfortable living and studying abroad in your chosen destination.
You should pay particular attention to differences in areas such as: freedom of political expression and rights to free speech; freedom of sexual expression and attitudes to same sex relationships; attitudes and the law pertaining to alcohol and other drugs. The age limits for participating in various activities varies according to location, and in most (if not all) countries, ignorance of the law is not a defence against prosecution.
Our outgoing students who are spending time with one of our partner institutions as part of their Queen Mary degree are requested to complete a Risk Assesment prior to going abroad. It is essential that students complete this, and it is your responsibility to ensure you take responsibility for completing this assesment prior to embarking on your programme. You will be sent this Risk Assesment via email for completion prior to your departure.
Completing the Risk Assessment is above all a mandatory process of self-reflection where you go through the psychological task of considering your personal level of risk for going abroad, to a particular destination for a forecasted period of time, from multiple perspectives. In additional to personal risks, you evaluate the potential level of various local, regional, political, cultural and environmental risks, all whilst carefully consulting the UK Government's Foreign Travel Advice.
You may also wish to consider an external organisation's advice about your chosen location for further information, such as sources provided by your future host institution/destination.
Emergency management and your safety
In the event of a large-scale incident while you are abroad, know that the GO Office will send an email to all students who are known to be in the region. This will be sent to your Queen Mary email address, which should be checked daily whilst on exchange. You should respond as soon as possible to indicate whether you are okay or not. You should also ensure that you contact your family and friends to let them know your whereabouts. Your host institution will also likely cover health and safety during your orientation, including details of local emergency numbers and local laws that you may not be accustomed to. It is also recommended to research your local area and find out where your local embassy/consulate is in case of other emergencies.
Support for your well-being
Queen Mary checks in with students from time to time during a mobility period abroad via their Queen Mary email address. However, we encourage all students not to wait to hear from us if they are encountering any problems whatsoever at any time. Please do reach out to us at any time via firstname.lastname@example.org so that any concern/issue can be assessed and appropriate support can be provided immediately - either by email, phone, virtual or in-person appointments.
Not only the GO Office alongside your academic department but also all Queen Mary student support services remain available and committed to supporting you before and during a mobility period abroad.
As well as support from your host institution, you continue to have full access to Queen Mary's Advice and Counselling Service while abroad, who provide a range of specialist, professional and confidential services to support students with financial, welfare, legal, emotional and psychological concerns. You also retain full access to Queen Mary's Disability and Dyslexia Service as well as Careers and Enterprise who remain available for you while you're away via phone, email or virtual appointment.
Students need to register for insurance during their time abroad. As a student going abroad, you are covered for accident and emergency medical assistance (not routine care) while abroad by Queen Mary's Insurance policy on the condition that you complete the mandatory registration via a short online application, which subsequently generates an insurance cover certificate. Students are sent instructions for this in pre-departure preparations.
Whilst Queen Mary's Insurance policy covers students for most exchange-related activities, please note that this does not cover students for any activities off-campus and outside of the academic programme, such as but not limited to leisure pursuits or personal travel. Therefore, students should carefully:
- Consider what type of additional, complementary insurance cover they may require,
- Reflect on what is covered by such a complementary insurance cover (Does it cover any of my personal possessions? What healthcare is included?),
- Enquire what local insurance a host institution/country may require visiting students to purchase based on their country of nationality,
- Obtain a GHIC/EHIC if they are going to be living in an EU/EEA host country whilst on exchange (criteria for eligibility may depend on country of residence, nationality, and both the start date and duration of the period abroad).
For EU/EEA destinations, it is important to remember that Queen Mary's Insurance policy is not an alternative to a GHIC/EHIC (and vice versa).
For all destinations, it is important to remember that Queen Mary's Insurance policy is not a replacement for Private Medical Insurance or insurance potentially required by a host organisation/destination. Before departure, students who may require ongoing medical care during a mobility period should liaise carefully and as early as possible with (1) their GP in the UK, (2) their host organisation abroad for appropriate guidance, and (3) the GO Office for relevant support.
All students travelling abroad should make sure they have awareness of the healthcare requirements and systems in the country they are travelling to well in advance of any long-term overseas study/work.
Mobility and COVID-19
Coronavirus has caused governments, higher education institutions, students and families to re-think and re-configure the ways in which we connect with others around the world through mobility experiences. Now more than ever, Queen Mary remains committed to offering mobility opportunities to all motivated students when, where and if these can be undertaken safely.
Moreover, Queen Mary has integrated COVID-19 considerations into the mandatory Risk Assessment that students complete before any mobility period abroad, where they are asked to consider how the fluid and ever-evolving COVID-19 situation might affect everything from travel and accommodation to local healthcare and personal security in their forecasted host destination.
Queen Mary follows the UK Government's Foreign Travel Advice updated by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in determining which university-managed mobility experiences are allowed to take place. Consequently, Queen Mary's Insurance policy only covers students where: a) the UK Government currently allows travel to the specific destination, b) the host institution is still running the particular mobility programme, and c) the student has completed the mandatory registration for Queen Mary's Insurance cover.
In collaboration with senior management and our partners abroad, the Global Opportunities Office communicates any cancellation decisions to prospective or mobile students in real time as and when necessary. Nevertheless, the Global Opportunities Office reminds prospective and mobile students that:
- FCDO guidance and recommendations are subject to change at short notice and typically with immediate effect;
- It remains the student's responsibility to consult updated FCDO guidance regularly during the weeks preceding a forecasted mobility period in order to keep abreast of the latest developments, as well as during their studies abroad while following local guidance and reputable news sources.
For further information regarding COVID-19, please consult Queen Mary's dedicated webpage: https://www.qmul.ac.uk/coronavirus/