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UK universities urged to cover Indian student quarantine costs

UK universities have been encouraged to cover the costs of quarantine for international students from India after warnings that an additional fee could have a significant impact on recruitment.

India was added to the UK’s travel red list at the end of April, due to a giant surge in cases and the emergence of an Indian variant of Covid-19.

International students are exempt from this ban, but they must quarantine for 11 days on arrival at a cost of £1,750.

In a letter to the education secretary Gavin Williamson, the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU-UK) wrote: “Many students have raised a great deal of concern at their inability to be able to pay the £1,750 mandatory cost of managed isolation. For them, this charge is unexpected, sudden and significant.”

There are around 55,000 Indian students currently studying at UK universities, most of whom are post-graduates. 

Sanam Arora, chair of NISAU-UK, said: “Most Indian students come to do a one-year master’s, which costs about £15,000 on average. So nearly £2,000 on top of the tuition fee is a pretty significant impact.”

“Certainly, for those who are thinking of coming over in September, they will be thinking of the total cost of studying, including this £1,750 charge now. So it will definitely impact students’ decision-making.”

Any increase in price of this magnitude will eliminate a marginal group of buyers

–Simon Marginson

Ms Arora predicted that some Indian students would defer their studies as a result, or even consider other destinations.

Speaking to the i newspaper, Jetal Zala, an Indian student at the University of Stirling, said: “Due to the changes in the quarantine rules I just cancelled my flight because it is £1,750, which is really not affordable to me as a student.

“I’m hoping the UK government might take steps to provide exemption for students, or if by any chance they might provide discounts on it. I have no other option at the moment. I need to stay here as I really can’t afford it.”

The University of Edinburgh announced on 4 May that it would “support hotel quarantine costs” to a maximum of £1,750 for “those who are required to be on campus for learning and teaching on an approved programme”.

It is understood that some institutions may be waiting to see whether the government will cover the cost or change its policy for students.

Universities UK International confirmed that it was in discussions with government departments and universities about whether international students would be able to quarantine in university accommodation instead of a “managed quarantine hotel”, as stipulated in the government guidelines.

Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford, said “any increase in price of this magnitude will eliminate a marginal group of buyers”, but he called for the government to carry the cost.


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