The world is facing a challenging time, as the coronavirus pandemic is threatening the health of the population, their jobs, mental health, as well as financial wellbeing. International students have also been facing challenges ever since the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. With universities shutting down to avoid face-to-face teaching and travel restrictions and border controls being introduced, many students are feeling like they’re left in limbo.
A large number of international students in the UK depend on the financial support they receive from working part-time. As a result of the pandemic, many of these students have lost the jobs through which they earned the extra money they needed to cover all living expenses. If you’re an international student on a Tier 4 visa with the “no recourse to public funds” condition, you’re unlikely to receive government financial assistance.
Hundreds of thousands of students in the UK have petitioned for tuition fee reimbursement due to the university disruptions caused by the pandemic, while many postgraduate students have been unable to continue their research projects and theses due to fieldwork being cancelled and labs and libraries being closed for the time being. Thousands of PhD and master’s students in the UK have signed an open letter which asks for extension to their funding by research councils, in order to finish the work that was disrupted by the virus.
While there are international students in the UK who have returned home to be with their families during this time, there are others who are facing financial difficulties due to job losses, and these two are not mutually exclusive. Below you will find a few options you can opt for in case you’re in need of assistance during coronavirus.
Consult Your University
Many universities have hardship funds that students can apply for in cases of unforeseen financial difficulties. Consult your university and ask them, let them know of your situation, and inquire whether they have such funds available. Call your university’s student support team or send them an email and they will let you know whether there’s something they can do for you, depending on your situation.
Your university might even place you in university accommodation as a means of saving money. If you’re in private accommodation, keep in mind that the government’s new regulations say that no tenant should be evicted from their accommodation when the country is in emergency lockdown. Alternatively, they should be given a 90-day notice by their landlord.
Contact Your Family or Friends
If you think any of your family members or friends can help you financially during this time, contact them and ask them for help. Maybe they will be able to buy a ticket back home, transfer funds to you through commercial transfer services or deposit money into your bank account.
Anything is possible in the age of the internet. In case you are in financial difficulty, you may choose to set up an online fundraising page and raise the funds you need through the help of other people. Depending on your circumstances, fundraising might work perfectly to get you enough funds to cover your living expenses during the pandemic. It is a promising option to explore, however, you are not offered full security that it will help you reach your goal.
Contact Your Country’s Embassy or Consulate in the UK
Contacting your country’s embassy or consulate when you need help is an option you should get behind on since they might be offering just the help you need. Although this largely depends on the country you come from, there are embassies that offer emergency accommodation for students left without a place to live in the UK, while there are other student unions which offer free food for international students. Once you contact your country’s embassy in the UK, you should let them know of your circumstances and ask whether you’re eligible for any kind of assistance.
Search for Relevant Charities
There are charities in the UK that are working hard to help those in need during this pandemic. Among many, there is also a charity called Friends International, designed specifically to help international students in the UK. This is a Christian charity that welcomes all international students in need, regardless of their faith. With around 40 centres around the world, if you contact this charity, you might be able to secure yourself free food parcels.
Keep in Mind the UK Support Services for International Students
- International students should contact their university’s wellbeing support services or the students’ union for more general support.
- You may also phone the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), more specifically the Student Advice Line on +442077889214.
- The Government Helpline can be reached through the Department for Education (DfE) by dialling 0800 046 8687 or emailing [email protected].
- If you have any immigration issues or inquiries, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline of UKVI by phone or email. Phone: 0800 678 1767 / Email: [email protected].
Get more coronavirus related information for international students in the UK in this article here.
Make Sure You Stay Safe During the Pandemic
This is a challenging time for everyone including international students who are away from their homes. However, it is crucial that everyone practices the safety measures as advised by the government and prevent the spread of the virus.
Currently, you are advised to keep up with your personal hygiene, meaning you should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds, especially after you return home from buying groceries or exercising.
Maintaining respiratory hygiene is also essential, more specifically, every time you cough or sneeze, you should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and then throw the tissue on the bin. If you do not have a tissue, then you can cover your mouth and nose with your elbow.
Practice social distancing rules like staying at least 2 meters away from other people. You should only leave your home when you want to exercise (this can be done only once per day), shop for essentials like food or medicine, seek medical care, or help someone who is vulnerable. If you think you might have coronavirus symptoms, make sure to self-isolate or use the NHS 111 online service to figure out what to do next.