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Warwick must do more to reassure its international students

Studying far from home has never been an easy pursuit. It requires a certain determination and grit to get though the tribulations of social life in a foreign place. Whatever country we hail from originally, our shared difficulty of circumstance is neglected. 

It was a sign of hope for international students to see the University of Bolton making very ambitious plans to “fly students from India, China and Africa to the UK before the new semester starts”. Announced on June 19, their preliminary measures seem far ahead of any arrangements made by the University of Warwick for international members of the community. This was against the backdrop of rather more depressing news – EU students will not have ‘Home Status’ UK tuition fees starting in 2021/22 academic year – and they will not be able to access SLC loans.

The University of Bolton even promises details such as to implement “an effective scheduling system, limiting significantly the number of students on campus at any one time to keep everyone secure.” In the Warwick History department alone, module allocation had to be almost completely scrapped as changes in staffing due to the crisis had become so drastic that a number of “anomalies”- as stated by the Head of the History department in an email- became prevalent. 

Instead, the University of Warwick, and all other UK universities should adopt a financial-needs based transportation scheme

The current circumstances force a sort of cynicism – it appears that Warwick will be unprepared to face the most serious crisis confronted by universities this century. Warwick ought to be envious of Bolton’s plan, making strides to help its international community. 

In an ideal world, Warwick would also make provisions to fly its international students free of charge to campus. However, several practicalities make this almost completely impossible. Mainly, due to the significantly large and diverse international student population at Warwick, there would be an issue of inclusion – what countries should students be flown back from or not? And how would this be determined? Second, the massive logistical problems involved would require organisation never before seen at our university, or at any other for that matter.  

We should also observe the vast difference in numbers compared to Warwick. Here is the latest data for the academic year 2018/19 by the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency for the groups of students chosen to be transported:

The data above shows that arranging flights and transportation for students in these three groups would be a miraculously difficult task for Warwick. However appealing the University of Bolton’s plans may seem, it also raises a certain question. Since all students are supposedly equal before the university, how come EU students and students from all the nations of the world are not included in Bolton’s plans? The over 170 EU students at the University of Bolton should be furious about this. 

Instead, the University of Warwick, and all other UK universities should adopt a financial-needs based transportation scheme. This would make sure that students who cannot afford to fly back to continue their studies would be able to. It has not been an easy time for any university, with the University of Warwick is on track to lose £70 Million because of the disruption caused by Covid-19.

Warwick has struck a surprisingly inhumane tone, leaving its international students in the dark on what will happen and how the university will be there for us this coming term

At such a large university as Warwick that depends on students from all around the world, it would be naïve to believe that all us internationals could be flown back free of charge. The university should come quickly to the aid of all students who need it, and not in the intimidating and indecipherable accountant jargon of “FP16a forms” made to students seeking travel reimbursements working on placements abroad.

Though there are many challenges ahead for higher education, Warwick has struck a surprisingly inhumane tone, leaving its international students in the dark on what will happen and how the university will be there for them this coming term. Instead, we are told to occupy our time with the Warwick Online Learning Certificate, which is a good example of how the university manages to direct its energy into a pointless and patronising endeavour.

In a world so full of chaos, students should at least feel that their finances won’t stop them from physically getting onto campus to continue or start their education. Ultimately the university should propose a financial needs based scheme for international student transport back to campus, to at least create a sense of organisation and care for foreign students. 

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