Find out more about the impact of Covid-19 on international students in our FAQs.

What is the current situation in the UK?

Universities in the UK continue to welcome students for the 2021-22 academic year.

Universities are delivering high-quality teaching this academic year. Many universities are adopting a hybrid approach to teaching, with many classes being taught in-person but with some elements remaining online. All UK universities are regularly reviewing teaching in line with the latest public health guidance.

All UK universities have safety measures in place to keep staff and students safe. Hand sanitizers are available across UK campuses, and many universities recommend face coverings in indoor teaching settings. 

It is recommended that you wear a face covering in many indoor and crowded spaces in the UK, such as on public transport and in shops. In some areas (such as in many indoor spaces in Scotland), it is mandatory to wear a face covering, so always check the latest guidance for your local area.

View government guidance on face coverings for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The UK’s successful vaccination programme means that over 70 per cent of the UK population have received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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 international students that universities in the UK are looking forward to welcoming you 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 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 information and support.

England 

If you arrive in England after 04.00 (BST) on Friday 18 March, you do not need to:

  • take any Covid-19 tests – before you travel or after you arrive
  • fill in a UK passenger locator form before you travel
  • quarantine on arrival.

This applies whether you are vaccinated or not.

Check the latest guidance for travel to England here.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

See relevant guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland below. 

How will I be supported on arrival to the UK?

UK universities are offering a range of options to students to ensure they are supported on arrival to the UK. 

This includes airport pickup services, mental health and wellbeing support, food and grocery deliveries and virtual inductions so you can start to prepare for your studies and meet your fellow students. 

Remember to stay in touch with your university as you make your travel plans, so they can ensure you are supported on arrival and throughout your time in the UK.

How will I have access to banks and groceries if I'm self-isolating?

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:

Take-away services: 

We recommend arranging an international bank account or bank card before you arrive in the UK, in case you are unable to open a bank account in your first few weeks. This will make it much easier for you to buy food and other essentials in case you need to self-isolate. 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’?

Many universities are adopting a hybrid approach to teaching in the 2021-22 academic year, also known as 'blended learning'.

In a hybrid or blended model, some teaching is delivered online. For example, large lectures may take place online, supported by online discussions. Courses that involve practical teaching sessions will be delivered in a safe way in-person, with physical distancing and personal protective equipment provided where appropriate. 

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.

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 2021-22 academic year, the UK government has confirmed that students are permitted to study online outside of the UK until 6 April 2022. This means students have more flexibility on when they travel to the UK. Speak to your university if you have questions about when you should travel to the UK to start, or continue, your studies.

The UK government has confirmed that it will allow student visa sponsors to adopt a blended learning approach for students who are studying in the UK until 06 April 2022. From 27 September 2021 onwards, sponsors will must provide some face-to-face learning for those students who are in the UK. 

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 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 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 begin a course of 12 months or less this autumn or early next year will need to enter by 6 April 2022. 
  • 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 6 April 2022. 

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.