Find out more about the impact of Covid-19 on international students in our FAQs.
What is the current situation in the UK?
To reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, there has been a staggered return to universities in the UK this spring. Many UK universities have been teaching online for the spring term, with the exception of certain courses that cannot take place online.
If you are planning on travelling to the UK, remember to check the latest travel advice and stay in touch with your university for advice on your situation. They will let you know when face-to-face teaching will resume for your chosen course.
Please see latest guidance for the spring term below:
The UK government has announced that those on practical and creative courses who need access to specialist equipment and facilities can return to campus for in-person teaching from 8 March. All remaining students will be able to return to face-to-face teaching from 17 May at the earliest, in line with the current roadmap out of lockdown. Spring term guidance for students in England can be found here.
Universities in Scotland are teaching in-person to a small amount of students and are prioritising those for whom face-to-face teaching is critical. From 26 April, universities will operate within the guidance for their local area. The guidance on the spring term and phased reopening in Scotland can be found here.
Universities are continuing to provide a mix of online and in-person teaching. All the latest information on higher education in Wales can be found here.
Universities are continuing to provide a mix of online and in-person teaching, with practical courses being prioritised to take place in person. Guidance is available for the spring term here.
Testing on campus
Students in the UK are encouraged to take two Covid-19 tests on arrival back to campus – one immediately on arrival and one three days later. If you’re returning from overseas and have completed your period of quarantine (either in a hotel or in your accommodation), you are not expected to be tested when you return to campus. However, please follow your university’s guidance on testing as you may be required to take part in regular, asymptomatic testing throughout the term.
There will be continued support available to international students who are already in the UK, as well as any students who are due to arrive in the UK in the coming months.
Universities are delivering high-quality teaching across the UK, whether through online learning, face-to-face or a blend of teaching methods.
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 the latest information and support.
The advice on travelling to the UK varies between the four nations. Please see relevant advice below:
Passengers from a list of countries are currently banned from travelling to the UK due to Covid-19 strains.
If you are from a country not on this list, please note that all international arrivals must currently:
- supply your contact and accommodation information
- provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken up to 72 hours before departure
- book and pay for a travel test package
- self-isolate in your accommodation for 10 days on arrival.
You can take part in the Test to Release for International Travel scheme if you are arriving into England.
If you are arriving from a country where travel to the UK is banned, please note that the ban does not apply to British or Irish nationals, or those who have residence rights in the UK. As an international student, if you have a Tier 4 visa, a student visa or you have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, then this ban does not apply to you, because you have residence rights in the UK. However please note you will need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days on arrival and you cannot use the Test to Release scheme.
Information on travelling to Scotland can be found here. Everyone who arrives in Scotland by air from outside the Common Travel Area must:
- provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure
- before departure book and pay for managed isolation in a quarantine hotel for at least 10 days from arrival, and be tested on days 2 and 8 of your 10-day quarantine.
- complete an online passenger locator form before travelling
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.
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.
Please continue to check the latest rules while making your plans, and stay in touch with your university for the latest information and support.
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 set at £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. More information on travelling to Northern Ireland can be found here.
How will I have access to banks and groceries if I’m under lockdown restrictions or self-isolating on arrival to the UK?
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.
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.
Will there be any concessions for students struggling to get a student visa for 2020 study?
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK government has 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 began your studies in the 2020-21 academic year, you will be able to benefit from this new Route, even if you begin your degree online in your home country due to Covid-19.
If you are due to complete your course in summer 2021 but have been unable to travel to the UK just yet, you will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route, as long as you arrive in the UK before 21 June 2021 (this has been updated from the previous 6 April date). Please check additional entry requirements and restrictions that have been introduced before travelling to the UK, and only travel when your university has confirmed face-to-face teaching will resume for your course.
If you started a one-year master’s course in January 2021, you will need to arrive in the UK by 27 September 2021 in order to be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route.
This is part of the UK government’s concessions to students who have, or will be applying for, student visas, in light of Covid-19. View the updated guidance on GOV.UK and for more information on the Graduate Route, visit our page on post-study work opportunities.
I’m studying in the UK but wish to return home. Am I allowed to travel?
The current guidance in the UK means that travellers need to have a reasonable excuse to leave the country. Such reasons could include moving home, travelling for compassionate reasons (for example visiting someone in hospital), travelling for study, or if there is a reasonable medical need to do so. More information on reasonable excuses for leaving the UK is available here.
All students in England and Scotland are permitted to travel home once for the Easter break if they wish to do so. However, in order to minimise transmission, and because travel restrictions could change while you are overseas, we would advise international students not to travel, and to instead remain in their term-time accommodation. See the relevant guidance on the spring term for students in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Please note that there are additional measures in place to minimise travel across international borders and reduce Covid-19 transmission. Everyone travelling out of England will need to declare their purpose of travel in a form which will be checked before departure. Anyone without a valid reason for travel will be directed to return home and may face a fine.
If you wish to return home, you should also consider restrictions in your home country as you may be required to self-isolate when you return, or there may be other measures in place at the border.
Remember to contact your university for advice on your current situation.
As an international student, will I be able to get the vaccine in the UK?
International students who live in the UK and are registered with a GP (general practitioner) will be able to access the Covid 19 vaccination in the UK, just as they are currently able to access healthcare. This means that older international students or those with underlying medical conditions will fall into priority categories, in the same way as anyone else in the UK.
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. Find out more on the NHS website.
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: