Go Abroad

Update - Semester 1 exchanges and placements

Guidance for University of Edinburgh students on upcoming international exchanges, placements and field trips.

 Flexibility announced for Semester 1 mandatory exchanges and placements.

Cancellation of placements in Semester 1

In May we announced that overseas exchanges, placements and field trips for Semester 1 have been cancelled. The decision was taken in the best interests of student health, safety and wellbeing, which remains our top priority.


Optional overseas placements and exchanges

All optional study exchanges and overseas placements in Semester 1 remain cancelled. We are working hard to ensure that all students achieve the required learning outcomes and gain appropriate experience to progress with their degree programme.

We appreciate that if you were expecting to be overseas during Semester 1 of 2020/21, you may now need to find accommodation in Edinburgh to cover this period. If you would like to arrange University accommodation for Semester 1, please contact accom.allocations@ed.ac.uk.


Mandatory exchanges and placements

In accordance with updated guidance from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), we are now offering flexibility to allow some students with courses that rely on a mandatory overseas element to travel in Semester 1. This only applies to students on degree programmes with a mandatory overseas component – not optional exchanges – who have been nominated to study remotely at their host institution.

If you are on a mandatory exchange, please contact the SWAY team and we will explore whether this is possible: sway@ed.ac.uk.

Students with a mandatory overseas component may also be offered an alternative to undertake an overseas work placement/traineeship abroad if their placement cannot go ahead and if it can be accommodated through your degree programme. Your School will be able to provide you with further information on options that are applicable to your course.

Overseas accommodation

The SWAY team will ask your host institution to support the identification of accommodation options on your behalf (if you are eligible to do a Semester 1 exchange in person). However we cannot guarantee that this can be provided.  

An acceptable alternative would be if a student has accommodation available through family or friends that they can access for the duration of their intended period abroad.


You will only be able to travel to countries deemed safe for travel by the FCO and students must apply for University travel insurance to ensure they have suitable cover for the duration of their placement.

You should only book your flights if you have met the following conditions:

  • You have received confirmation from SWAY that your host institution is willing to accept you in-person
  • You have received confirmation that you are covered by the University’s travel insurance policy
  • You have completed the relevant risk assessment, have had it approved by SWAY, and have received explicit confirmation from them that you can book travel

We strongly advise you to book a return flight where at all possible, however, we understand that some airlines may not be offering return tickets yet. If this is the case, we will accept confirmation of outbound travel only, with the following conditions:

  • You buy a return journey as soon as possible and send the confirmation to sway@ed.ac.uk 
  • You understand that the University’s insurance does not cover the purchase of a flight home in an emergency situation in cases where you do not already hold a return ticket. Therefore, if you need to return home at short notice due to Covid-19 travel restrictions (or any other reason) you will not be able to claim the costs of this through the University

Tuition fees and funding

You will need to contact the Fees and Student Support Team to confirm whether undertaking a work/study placement overseas will have an impact on your tuition fees.

Your student funding body (e.g. SAAS, SFE, etc.) may offer different loan/bursary amounts for students studying or working abroad. You should contact your funding body directly to see how this may affect the amount you receive.

You will still be able to apply for Erasmus funding if you have a mandatory placement and it meets Erasmus+ criteria for funding (2 months minimum in an EU/EEA country). Contact workabroad@ed.ac.uk to apply for Erasmus funding for your placement.


Contact us

If you have questions in the meantime about fieldtrips and placements, please get in touch.

Contact us about fieldtrips and placements

Further information about overseas exchanges and placements can be found on our Go Abroad website.

Answers to your questions

Find answers to your questions about this announcement and about the changes in arrangements for exchanges and placements while Covid-19 is active.

Download the list of FAQ's