Find out more about the impact of Covid-19 on international students in our FAQs.
What will teaching look like in the 2021-22 academic year?
Universities in the UK are preparing to welcome students for the start of the new academic year in September 2021.
While it’s hard to predict what the health situation will look like in September, the current rules in the UK mean that universities can teach all classes in person. Travel within the UK is allowed, and many cultural and hospitality venues are open.
The UK has been gradually re-opening, and a successful vaccination programme means that 64 per cent of the UK population have received at least one dose of their Covid-19 vaccine. (Source: The Guardian)
Universities are preparing to deliver high-quality teaching, in line with government guidance that ensures the health and safety of everyone remains top priority. If you have any questions at all, please contact your university directly. Rest assured that you will be supported at every step before, during and after you travel to the UK for your studies.
We know that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause a lot of uncertainty about international study, and we’d like to reassure all students that universities in the UK are looking forward to welcoming them here.
What support is available to international students in the UK?
We understand this is a very difficult time for many students in the UK. We would encourage any international students who are struggling or have concerns to reach out – contact your university’s international office or student support services.
UK universities have implemented a number of Covid-19 support services that international students can access, such as food packages, support through self-isolation periods and additional technology to support their online learning. Universities are also offering increased mental health support during the pandemic, with many putting initiatives in place which support students in keeping active and that help them to socialise safely.
If you’re an international student in the UK, make sure your university knows about your circumstances and don’t hesitate to get in touch with them if you need support.
What do I need to know about travelling to the UK?
Remember that travel and quarantine rules are subject to change, so please continue to check the latest rules while making your plans, and stay in touch with your university for support.
The advice on travelling to the UK varies between the four nations:
England is operating a ‘traffic light system’ for travellers arriving in the UK.
- All international arrivals will be required to complete a pre-departure test, complete a passenger locator form and book a travel test package.
- ‘Red’ country arrivals are banned from travelling to the UK. However, if you have a student visa, or you have been granted EUSS leave, then then this ban does not apply to you because you have residence rights in the UK. However, you will be required to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel, and your pre-booked travel test package will include a test on days two and eight.
- ‘Amber’ country arrivals will be required to self-isolate in your own accommodation, and your travel test package will include a test on days two and eight. You can take part in the Test to Release for international travel scheme if you are arriving from an ‘amber’ country, and pay for a private Covid-19 test five days after arriving in the UK. If the test is negative, you can stop self-isolating.
- ‘Green’ country arrivals will not have to self-isolate on arrival, and your travel test package will include a test on day two.
Scotland is also following a ‘traffic light system’, and so the arrival requirements depend on whether you have come from or transited through a country on the red, amber or green list.
Information on travelling to Wales can be found here. Please note that there is there is no direct arrival into Wales from travellers who have been in a country on the banned list. If you are travelling from a country not on this list, you will need to provide some information before you travel, provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test, pre-book a testing package and self-isolate for 10 days on arrival. You cannot take part in the Test to Release scheme if you're arriving into Wales.
Information on travelling to Northern Ireland can be found here. Passengers arriving into Northern Ireland will need to complete a passenger locator form, provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test before departure, and self-isolate for 10 days on arrival.
My country is on the ‘red list’. Am I banned from travelling to the UK?
The UK has introduced travel bans for arrivals from some countries (known as the ‘red list’). If you have a student visa (or Tier 4 visa), or you have been granted EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) leave, then this ban does not apply to you, because you have residence rights in the UK.
However, there are some measures you will need to follow before and after arrival. Please follow the relevant guidance for the part of the UK you are travelling to.
Check the latest rules while making your plans, and stay in touch with your university for support. They will let you know when face-to-face teaching will resume for your chosen course.
If you are arriving into England, you will need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days on arrival, at your own expense (currently £1,750).
- The hotel package will cover the costs of transport, food, accommodation, security and testing.
- Before you travel, you must book your hotel stay and two coronavirus tests for after you arrive.
- You must also take a Covid-19 test up to 72 hours before you travel. After you arrive, on day two and day eight of your quarantine, you will need to take your pre-booked tests.
You cannot take part in the Test to Release scheme if you have been in or through a ‘red list’ country in the 10 days before you arrive.
You cannot travel directly to Wales if you’ve visited or passed through a country on the ‘red list’ in the last 10 days. You will only be able to enter the Wales from ‘red list’ countries via a designated port of entry in England or Scotland and isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel.
You will need to follow the relevant guidance for arriving into England or Scotland, and complete a passenger locator form, provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test and book and pay for your hotel stay and your testing package.
You will not be able to transit to Wales until you have completed quarantine. Find out more about travelling to Wales here.
All international arrivals in Scotland must quarantine in an approved hotel on arrival. You will need to book the hotel in advance. During your stay, you will also need to take a Covid-19 test on day two and day eight of your 10-day stay.
Before you travel you will also need to:
- Provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken in the three days before you begin your journey
- Complete a passenger locator form.
If you are travelling Scotland via England, and you’ve been in a country on the ‘red list’ in the previous 10 days, you will need to quarantine in a hotel in England before travelling to Scotland. Find out more about travelling to Scotland here.
If you are travelling directly to Northern Ireland having been in one of the ‘red list’ countries in the previous 10 days, you must:
- Complete a passenger locator form
- Provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test
- Self-isolate for 10 days along with all members of your household, even if they have not travelled.
If you are travelling to Northern Ireland via Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland, you must follow requirements that have been introduced for that country. That may mean quarantining in a government-approved hotel for 10 days before you travel on to Northern Ireland. Information on travelling to Northern Ireland can be found here.
How will I have access to banks and groceries if I'm self-isolating on arrival to the UK?
If you are quarantining in a government-approved hotel, the cost of your stay will cover food, transport, accommodation and testing.
If you are quarantining in your university accommodation, there are lots of options available to you. Lots of local food supermarkets offer online delivery services. You can also order food online from local take-away restaurants to be delivered to your accommodation.
Please see the links below for more information:
We recommend arranging an international bank account or bank card before you arrive in the UK, as you may be unable to open a bank account in your first two weeks. This will make it much easier for you to buy food and other essentials in case you need to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival. Don’t bring large amounts of cash with you.
Remember that your university will have lots of measures in place to support you if you need to self-isolate, so get in touch for more information.
As an international student, will I be able to get the vaccine in the UK?
Anybody aged 18 or over in the UK is eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.
In order to book a Covid-19 vaccine, international students should register with a local GP (General Practitioner) and get an NHS number. An NHS number can be found on any letter the NHS has sent you, on a prescription, or by logging in to a GP practice online service. You can also find your NHS number using this tool.
While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, you can request to book your Covid-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.
For more information on the UK’s vaccination programme, visit the NHS website.
For further questions about the Covid-19 vaccination and international students in England, visit the FAQs on the NHS website. Please note, this FAQ applies to England only. Students should refer to the relevant guidance for the part of the UK they are studying in, by visiting government websites for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What is ‘blended learning’?
‘Blended learning’ is where teaching is delivered through a mix of formats. For example, lectures will be delivered online, supported by online discussions. Courses that involve practical teaching sessions will be delivered in a safe way, with physical distancing and personal protective equipment provided where appropriate.
Some face-to-face study takes place under a blended learning model, in small groups that will be made safer through the creation of ‘bubbles’. This means the same group of students will be taught together throughout the term.
Teaching through blended learning means the safety of students and staff remains top priority, and high-quality teaching can continue. All learning is being regularly reviewed in line with local public health guidelines.
The UK government has confirmed that it will allow visa sponsors to sponsor international students for blended learning for the 2020-21 academic year - see guidance here.
What measures has the UK government implemented to ensure health and safety of students?
The UK government has provided guidance to universities on how to operate safely, and universities have taken a range of measures for campuses and accommodation to be Covid-secure. This includes increases in cleaning, ventilation, handwashing facilities, social distancing and advice on rules of contact and social mixing. The UK government also requires that universities support students in the event they are expected to isolate.
All UK universities are required to have outbreak management plans. In the event of a local outbreak of Covid-19, universities will work with local public health officials to consider moving to other modes of teaching that reduce face-to-face contact.
The UK government has also supported the creation of a programme of mental health support for students, Student Space, for students in England and Wales. Whether it’s your mental health, your studies, money, housing or relationships, there are resources and support available to you on the Student Space website.
Is there financial support provided to existing international students?
If you are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of Covid-19, get in touch with your university as soon as possible and they will be able to support you.
Many universities and colleges have student hardship funds, and the UK government, as well as the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have increased the amount of funding available to universities to support students experiencing hardship as a result of Covid-19. In many cases, this funding is available to international and EU students.
Universities are on hand to support all students who are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of Covid-19, particularly in cases where students have lost their part-time jobs. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need support – your university is there to help you. Find out more on UKCISA’s website.
What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?
Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness in any household members is worsening.
If it's not an emergency, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For any emergency conditions, if you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the call handler or operator if you or your relative have coronavirus symptoms as well as any emergency conditions.
When to get a Covid-19 test
Get a test as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.
The symptoms are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
The test needs to be done in the first eight days of having symptoms.
You do not need to get a test if you have no symptoms or if you have different symptoms. Find out more on the NHS website.
Tell people you've been in close contact with that you have symptoms.
You may want to tell people you've been in close contact with in the past 48 hours that you might have coronavirus.
What visa concessions are in place for students due to Covid-19 disruption?
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK government implemented a number of concessions to assist visa holders in the UK who have been impacted by global travel and health restrictions. This has included offering extensions of visas, relaxing the rules on switching in the UK, and enabling international students to continue existing courses or commence new courses of study by distance or blended learning for the duration of the 2020-21 academic year. Find out more about concessions for students on GOV.UK.
Students will not be penalised for being unable to collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) while Covid-19 measures are in place.
If you have any immigration queries related to Covid-19, please contact the government’s Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre at CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.
What should I do if my 30 day or 90 day visa vignette to work, study or join family has expired?
If your 90 day vignette has expired, you will need to apply for a replacement by completing this online form.
Only apply for a new visa, or apply to replace an expired vignette, when you are confident you can travel to the UK. The new vignette will be valid for a period of 90 days - if you cannot travel during this time, you may need to apply again to update your vignette.
For the latest advice please check GOV.UK.
Will the Graduate Route be affected by students studying online?
The new Graduate Route will enable you to work, or look for work in the UK, at any skill level for two years (this rises to three years for PhD graduates) after graduation. The Graduate Route will open for applications on 1 July 2021.
If you have been studying online in your home country due to Covid-19, you can still apply for the Graduate Route, provided you meet the other requirements of the route. This is part of the UK government's Covid-19 student visa concessions. The guidance states:
- Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course, will be able to make an application if they make a successful student visa application and arrive in the UK either before their visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner.
- Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make an application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their permission.
- Students sponsored for a course lasting longer than 12 months will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate Route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021.
For more information on the Graduate Route, visit our page on post-study work opportunities.
How does the UK leaving the European Union affect students from the EU?
Please visit our EU student advice page for the latest information.
Find out more about the impact of Covid-19 on higher education in the UK: