Study abroad, field trips and placements
Making study abroad, travel and internships accessible
Undergraduate students considering study abroad opportunities should consult the Disability Coordinator in their college at an early stage, whose role it is, alongside their personal tutor, to provide support in planning study abroad.
The Disability Advisory Service can provide advice and support as a student plans their study abroad, especially in terms of recommending the study support and reasonable adjustments that will be needed, and provide information on this for the prospective host.
Those taking up an opportunity to study or work abroad should contact their prospective hosts/employers well ahead of an application deadline to discuss what adjustments and support may be needed, and whether these can be provided.
For those planning for a mandatory year abroad as part of their degree, planning should begin early in the academic year before (so early in year 2 for those who will be studying abroad in year 3). Those travelling as part of the ERASMUS+ scheme should notify their departmental Erasmus Coordinator about the need for reasonable adjustments as soon as possible, so there is time for liaison with the partner institution department to ensure needs will be met.
In exceptional cases a student may require dispensation from a mandatory overseas placement on disability grounds, but all efforts will be made to make a study abroad opportunity possible. In those circumstances, students may pursue alternative arrangements, such as study or a placement in a context where the relevant language is used in the UK.
Those undertaking an ERASMUS+ opportunity may be able to apply for additional funding to support the extra costs of living abroad associated with the disability, e.g. extra travel costs. They should contact the University of Oxford ERASMUS Coordinator for further details. If applying for other funding, students should check at an early stage what costs relating to their disability will be eligible for funding.
In deciding on a study or work abroad opportunity, students should be guided to consider:
- what is the impact of your condition on your life and studies? Will the impact be different in different contexts?
- what are environmental or life triggers which could exacerbate your symptoms?
- what is important for you to have in terms of support arrangements? Think about your existing coping strategies/the existing support you have on offer to you and ask whether these could be agreed at the potential hosting institution.
Some issues that the student might particularly want to consider when choosing an opportunity:
- would a city placement be better than a rural one?
- is the placement a university or a completely different organisation/setting (work placement; residential setting; language course,). Will this impact on what support (academic, pastoral) is available? Students should be aware that the Oxford University Counselling Service can provide appointments via Skype.
- what are the accommodation options - will there be access to a supportive community, and is a private/ensuite room a necessity? Will there be a commute each day?
- what are the transport links like, and how straightforward would it be to travel home or to go to a hospital quickly if you needed to?
- in-country disability support provision – what are your rights to disability support in the country you are considering?
- healthcare – consider the health care system and the costs involved. Does the UK have a reciprocal health agreement with the country to be visited? All students studying abroad need to take out travel insurance and the University has travel insurance arrangement that it recommends, but students with existing health conditions may need to have additional insurance in place.
Students should prepare themselves for cultural differences – depending on where they go, they may encounter differences around diversity issues, including disability, in terms of the level of understanding, awareness, attitudes, acceptance and the provision of support. It is worth remembering that students have already experienced a significant life transition in coming to University and integrating into student life at Oxford. Students should be guided to think about what worked well about managing this transition and what they would do differently next time.
- students should maintain regular contact with their personal tutor whilst abroad.
- students should be aware that they need to plan ahead for their return and maintain contact with those who can help put in place arrangements (see below): their Disability Coordinator, Disability Advisor, the relevant accommodation office and others.
- the Oxford University Counselling Service can provide appointments via Skype.
Planning will need to begin whilst student are still abroad:
- returning students may need to re-apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance depending on the length of their trip. The application should be made at least 14 weeks prior to the start of term.
- students should make accommodation arrangements well ahead of returning, especially if there are disability-specific requirements.
- it also may be necessary to contact your Disability Coordinator in college and the relevant department/faculty well ahead of your return to ensure that plans are in place to reinstate study support and reasonable adjustments.
- the Abroad With Disabilities website has lots of useful resources for students.
- Exchangeability.eu is an EU initiative designed to encourage international mobility for disabled students.
- MappED! Provides students with information on accessibility of not only university facilities, but also many other related places and services across Europe.
- the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages has a Weblearn page to support planning for the mandatory year abroad for their students, but which may have useful advice on planning and welfare support for students from other departments.
- the Counselling Service has produced a podcast for international students which is also a useful resource for outgoing students.
- there is information on the additional funding for Erasmus students that may be available to support the disability related costs of studying abroad.
- Mobility International USA works on advancing disability rights and leadership globally. Whilst the website is for US students, it has useful resources for disabled students who are considering study abroad and those supporting them.
Widening participation in outward student mobility – This toolkit may be useful for disability leads in planning how to ensure students who are underrepresented in study abroad schemes can be supported to take up these opportunities.
The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages has a Weblearn page to support planning for the year abroad, which may have useful information for staff who are beginning to put in place support for study abroad in other departments.