Image: Flickr / Billy Wilson

International students say they are “being forgotten” in Covid-19 crisis

A University of Edinburgh student has claimed that self-isolating international students have been forgotten during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Reese Chamberlain told the BBC that students are being forced to call security begging for food, and that any communications to student welfare are going unanswered. 

Reese, like other international students, pays £21,000 in tuition fees to attend the University of Edinburgh. Scotland’s international student intake is 22%, a higher proportion compared to the rest of the UK.

Claims from other students include those in halls of residence going without food for two days.

The University of Edinburgh told the BBC that they have been supporting all students who have to self-isolate. 

A spokesman said: “University staff are working hard to provide care and support – including mental health support – for all students who are required to self-isolate by the Scottish government.

“Catering staff will provide three meals a day for all students living in University-provided accommodation. These meals are available in vegan and gluten-free options to ensure that all dietary requirements are met.”

University staff are working hard to provide care and support – including mental health support – for all students who are required to self-isolate by the Scottish government

– University of Edinburgh

University students across the UK, similarly affected by coronavirus, have demanded partial refunds of tuition fees. The watchdog for higher education in England, the Office for Students, suggested that universities must not “adopt a blanket policy that refunds are not available”.

Reese’s mother, Mrs Chamberlain, said that “the university is woefully unprepared,” adding further that student welfare has been neglected by the university, despite promises of “mental health checks and a point of contact”.

Reese now plans to return to his home in New York, with many students regretting decisions to move to their universities.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon announced that students are “not at fault” for the coronavirus outbreaks, and indicated that students’ right to return home should be protected. 

Scottish Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “Universities and student accommodation providers have a duty of care to their students – right now, this must be their number one priority and I expect them to take every possible step to look after their safety and wellbeing.”

Universities Scotland, the representative body for all 19 of Scotland’s higher education institutions, has launched ‘Consistent Core of Care’, aimed at supporting students in university-owned accommodation to care for welfare, food supplies, and other basic provisions.

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