It is undeniable that the coronavirus pandemic has had far reaching effects in the way we live our everyday lives. Many of us will now have transitioned to working from home, participating in virtual online meetings, home schooling our children and limiting outings to once a day only.
In these unprecedented times international students are not immune from the effects of the pandemic. As a number of international borders have closed, some international students have been unable to return to their home countries. A long way from home and without support networks, such affected students may feel isolated and alone at this time.
Due to the worldwide socio-economic impact of the pandemic, some international students remaining in the UK are facing increased financial hardship. Those relying on the income of their parents for their maintenance in the UK for example, are faced with the reality of their parents’ unemployment or imminent unemployment. Similarly students relying on funding from financial sponsors now at risk of insolvency, are also at increased risk. Those facing an unforeseen extra amount of time in the UK may also be at risk of an increased financial output that they had not yet accounted for.
We have heard reports from students worried that they are unable to buy food, continue to pay their rent, pay their tuition fees and are facing the prospect of homelessness due to their arrangements with private landlords. Students are also unclear on the process for seeking reimbursement of tuition fees paid in advance for courses that are now deferred.
We know of the tremendous work institutions are doing to support international students during this uncertain time. Here at UKCISA we would like to support members in safeguarding the mental health and well-being of our international students. Please tell us via our members’ forum - https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/forum/messages.aspx?TopicID=4522 about any issues your students are experiencing that you want us to make our contacts at the Home Office aware of, and any initiatives you are putting in place that we could tell other members about.
From everyone here at UKCISA, thank you once again for all that you are doing to support international students.
Advice and Training Officer, UKCISA