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UK Universities reveal plans to accommodate for international students that will need to self-isolate

UK universities are changing traditional styles of learning to accommodate overseas students when term starts this autumn.

The plans will accommodate government travel restrictions due to COVID-19, which forces all overseas students to self-isolate for 14 days.

This will involve isolating incoming students with others of the same nationality for a two-week period before they can begin the blended style of learning implemented by UK universities, announced by the College and University Business Officers Board director Jane Donachy.

Current plans for learning may result in many international students remaining at home to complete their studies, with many UK universities putting part of the degree online.

Cambridge University have put all of their lectures online for the next academic year, and many other universities are offering a similar blend of online teaching for the first term.

The University of Warwick have announced a change to blended learning which will include all classes with more than 25 students being moved online.

With one in five students at UK universities coming from outside of the EU, this change to traditional learning is predicted to have a detrimental impact on the institutions financially if it leads to a drop in intake for 2020/2021.

The knock-on effects could leave a lasting impact. International students may choose not to travel to the UK, student accommodation will be left empty, and the money that students bring to the area will be lost

– Laura Rettie

Laura Rettie, vice-president of global communications at student consultancy firm Studee, reported similar concerns. 

“The knock-on effects could leave a lasting impact. International students may choose not to travel to the UK, student accommodation will be left empty, and the money that students bring to the area will be lost,” she said.

This is supported by a new government report by former UK Universities Minister Jo Johnson, which predicts that fall in international students in the region of 50-75% would expose “real vulnerabilities” in the country’s higher education sector.

The University of Lincoln shared that if quarantine is still in place in the autumn, it will be offering two free weeks’ accommodation “to entice international students to arrive two weeks early”.

Minister for Exports Graham Stuart MP warned of the wider importance of UK universities maintaining international student numbers.

“International trade is critical to the UK’s coronavirus recovery plan and we need to ensure that our education sector plays a full role in meeting global need and helping both the UK and its partners to come back from the economic impacts of the virus.”

However, 72% of international students are open to attending UK universities regardless of learning moving online.

Living allocations, rather than just being a mix of various students, may now depend on where the students have travelled from.

Self-isolating international students would be supported by accommodation services with a free rice cooker, bedding and comfort pack. Late arrivals will have to be co-located and isolate together.

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