At UKEAS, we aim to give our students the continuous support they need for their overseas studies, especially with the effects of the developing COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some updates and answers to concerns on how the UK is responding to the situation, and how they plan to ensure the safety and security of all students during this period.
Check out these FAQs and find answers to some of your questions during the global outbreak! For further assistance, do not hesitate to get in touch with a UKEAS representative.
How is the UK dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak? Your questions about current UK international students answered!
Universities UK and Universities UK International are working closely with the government and their partners across the sector to provide solutions as quickly as possible.
Specific government advice:
Should students be advised to leave the UK and return home?
Students who currently remain at university should not travel. Universities are supporting those students who do not have another alternative and they will continue to ensure that students who remain at university have access to support, food and other provisions and that critical services – like heating, water, electricity and security - are maintained. Students can reach out to their university to have access to support available to them.
More information: https://twitter.com/educationgovuk/status/1244596557934211074
If university halls close, what measures should universities be taking for international students who are unable to return?
The UK government has issued guidance for residential educational settings. Students must check in with their university for support.
More information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings
If a student leaves the UK during the Coronavirus outbreak and cannot return within 60 days, will they lose their Tier 4 visa?
The government will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties where students have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies via distance learning; these students will be able to keep their Tier 4 visa. The usual restrictions and reporting requirements will apply where a student has withdrawn from their course or formally deferred.
If all classes are moved online and attendance cannot be registered, are students at risk of losing their Tier 4 visa?
Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the government has stated that they will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or to students who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances.
If a student or staff visa is about to expire but they are unable to travel home due to travel restrictions, what guidance is available for them?
The UK government released further guidance for visa holders in the UK on March 14. They have stated that visas shall be extended to 31 May 2020 if an individual cannot leave because of travel restrictions or self-isolation. The government is now requesting that individuals contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to detail their situation.
Are international students and staff able to access healthcare in the UK?
NHS treatment for the coronavirus (COVID-19) is free of charge for everyone.
Consult advice available from UKCISA: https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Information--Advice/Studying--living-in-the-UK/Coronavirus-Covid-19-info-for-international-students#layer-6726
Students and staff have experienced or are worried about experiencing harassment due to the outbreak. What should they be advised?
The higher education sector is clear that there is no place for racial harassment on a university campus, or anywhere else. Students and staff must report any incident of harassment and seek support from their university.
Can students expect to graduate this summer?
Graduation dates are likely to be affected. Universities will keep students informed of any changes.
Are there any guidelines on how many hours student doctors and nurses can work in the NHS?
The Home Office has lifted the restriction on the amount of hours student nurses and doctors can work in the NHS. Pre-registered overseas nurses who are currently required to sit their first skills test within three months and to pass the test within eight months, will now have this deadline extended to the end of the year. Visas will be automatically extended and free of charge, for one year.
More information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nhs-frontline-workers-visas-extended-so-they-can-focus-on-fighting-coronavirus
Do universities still need to carry out in-person right to work checks?
Right to work checks have been temporarily adjusted. Right to work checks can now take place over video call as issued by government guidance on March 30.
More information on steps employers should take: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-right-to-work-checks