As travel agitations resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic continue into 2021, international students face ambivalence around when they will be able to return to their study destinations.
With near-constant updates and rule changes from country to country, it can be difficult to keep up with the most recent information on travel restrictions. This is especially true for international students, who have had to navigate online learning at the same time as staying on top of the latest travel reporting. Below are the rolling updates on travel for international students enrolled at universities in the UK.
The UK has banned almost all travel from India and other red-listed countries. But what does the announcement mean for international students?
On 25 January 2021, the UK government placed certain global covid hotspots on a travel ban listing, including countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. As of 23 April 2021, The UK government has announced that India will join the Covid-19 red list due to fears of a new virus variant spreading. Please note that there are some exemptions for international students.
This ban, also known as the red-list, does not affect to British or Irish nationals or third-country nationals with “residence rights”. So, an international student with a Tier 4/new student visa, a biometric visa, or pre-settled/settled status under the European Union settlement scheme is exempted from this ban, because they have “residence rights”.
However, anyone traveling from or through red-listed countries to England who is exempt from the ban must only fly into Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, or Farnborough Airfield. Furthermore, all passengers flying to England from red-listed countries must isolate for ten days in a hotel set by the government at their own expense, booked through the online booking system.
Universities UK International has since confirmed that it is discussing with the UK government to see if Indian students may be able to quarantine in university accommodation instead of in an approved hotel. The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU-UK) has also written to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, calling for the government to waive or reduce the quarantine costs for international students.
How international Students must deal with the situation?
Covid-19 has drastically changed the educational landscape for millions of university students around the world, and international students have their own set of unique challenges. The many sudden changes, along with the chronic stress of the pandemic, may pose mental-health challenges.
Although there are many seemingly negative aspects, international students must demonstrate admirable resilience and adaptability during these times. With the right support from loved ones and, even more critically, from universities, many international students will be able to maintain good mental health.