The start of the Easter term has been disrupted for many students and academics due to the flight chaos caused by the volcano eruption in Iceland. Exams that were scheduled for this week have been cancelled as many lecturers and students are unable to fly back to the UK from their homes or holiday destinations.

All first year and some second year MML students were welcomed back to Cambridge last Friday with an email from the faculty informing them that their oral exams, which were to take place this Monday and Tuesday, had been postponed to a later date.

The exams take the form of a short 15 minute discussion of an article in the foreign language studied.  There has been no word on the date of the exams as yet but students have been assured that they will not take place this week.

Shannon Rainey, a first year MML student at Christ’s College from Belfast, has been unable to return to Cambridge. She said that it was a “relief” that the orals had been cancelled as she would not have been able to make them.

“I had a flight booked for Saturday but it was cancelled, so I booked another for this Tuesday but that one has been cancelled too. The ferries are full and it looks like I won’t be back until next weekend at the earliest. I emailed my tutor and they were really nice about it, luckily”.

Francesca Hill, who studies French and Spanish at Trinity Hall, remarked: “my French teacher is still stuck on the continent and several of my friends. Some people made it back to Cambridge early to revise but they were the lucky ones.''

Some students, however, have been very pleased about the postponing of the exams. Alice Kitcatt, a student of French and Italian at St John’s College, said: “I was stressing out about having an exam before the start of term and so I was absolutely elated when I heard that it had been postponed. I was able to go out on my first night in Cambridge instead of revising – the only language I will be speaking from now on is a drunken slur.”

Other University-wide exams that are scheduled for this week include papers for Engineering part II, a paper for part III Physics and the exam for Master of Finance. Students are urged to contact their department immediately if they are affected by the flight cancellations.

Students at St Catharine’s College received an e-mail from their Senior Tutor, reassuring those worried that the flight problems would harm their academic performance this term. Students were told: “Please do NOT worry about missing examinations, presentation deadlines or any other scheduled academic commitment,” and, “you will not be penalized for delays outside your control”.

The eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Southern Iceland has caused widespread chaos in Europe, notably the cancellation of all UK flights. At the time of going to press it was estimated that a million people have been left stranded abroad in the biggest disruption to air traffic since 9/11.

Uncertainty over when flights will be back to normal continues. Eyjafjallajökull last erupted in the early 1820s, when it remained active for more than two years.

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