The information on this page covers queries raised by our members and partners. Currently this is broken down into four categories below. We will continue to review these sections as the situation develops:
Please note that we cannot provide formal guidance but we will disseminate government and public health information, signpost to external resources where available, and keep you updated with our work on these issues.
Where the answers to queries are unknown, Universties UK and Universities UK International are working closely with government and our partners across the sector to provide solutions as quickly as possible.
Please feel free to share and repurpose the information below.
If you have any questions or concerns related to international activity which are not covered on this page, please contact email@example.com
Latest Health Protection Scotland advice.
Specific government advice:
What does England's 'roadmap' mean for international students outside the UK?
What does England’s ‘roadmap’ mean for international students remaining at university at this time?
What are the current Covid requirements on entering the UK?
Do international students planning to travel to the UK need to book a testing package prior to arrival?
What is a quarantine hotel?
Can students with a student visa travel from red list countries to the UK?
Are international students in the UK able to return home (outside the UK) during the Easter holidays?
What is in place for student travel over the winter period?
Some students plan to co-finance their studies with a part time job. Can they still expect to do this given the impact the pandemic on employment?
Following the publication of England’s roadmap ‘Covid-19 Response: Spring 2021’ on 22 February, the Department for Education has published updated guidance for higher education providers. Key points for international students include:
From 8 March, students studying practical subjects may be asked by their providers to return to campus
Unless students are in the group of students able to travel back for in-person teaching, they are being asked to stay where they are at this stage
The guidance also notes that international students who have already booked travel should consider delaying if travel arrangements can be rearranged without undue costs
It also confirms the steps students should take before returning to the UK, including checking with their university, and in relation to entry requirements, including those coming from ‘red list countries’, self-isolation requirements and testing requirements.
In a letter to students, Michelle Donelan, Minister for Universities, noted the that international students who have remained at university and do not have alternative accommodation are among groups for which providers should ensure appropriate support is in place. Minister Donelan also encouraged students to contact their university if they feel they could benefit from hardship support on offer.
On 23 February, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a ‘strategic framework’ for easing restrictions in Scotland. The First Minister said the aim in Scotland was to move back to a levels system, which provides for regional variation of restrictions within Scotland, from the last week in April.
From late February, through March, the restrictions allow for students who have placement, practical or creative practice that cannot be done online and is “critical” to their graduation will be able to study in-person on campus, within the current restrictions. Students should contact their institution if they are unclear if they meet the definition of “critical”.
The framework does not provide dates for further student returns, instead saying that the Scottish Government will look to “progressively broaden the scope of those allowed to return when conditions allow”. The Scottish Government will review progress through the Strategic Framework every three weeks. We expect the next update in mid-March.
Universities are working closely with the Scottish Government to reach constructive outcomes on a number of issues facing international students including mobility and visa requirements, quarantine and addressing student hardship. For the latest SG guidance, please visit: Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Student Support - Scotland (studentinformation.gov.scot)
The Department for Education's updated guidance for higher education providers on students returning to, and starting, higher education in Spring Term 2021 outlines a comprehensive list of considerations students should be aware of before arriving in the UK, including England-specific requirements (from page 26). We strongly recommend all students are aware of all of these requirements to avoid any disruption to their plans.
Guidance is here and includes: 'From 0400 on Monday 15 February, if you are travelling from outside of the Common Travel Area, and you do not qualify under an exemption, you will be required to quarantine in managed isolation for 10 days on arrival in Scotland.'
Guidance is here and includes: 'If you are returning to the UK from RED list countries, you must arrive through one of the designated ports of entry to the UK in England or Scotland. You must then isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel. Please see the guidance on border rules for more information.'
Guidance is here and includes: 'If you are coming to Northern Ireland and have been in a country which is not exempt from travel restrictions and is not part of the Common Travel Area (CTA) in the previous 10 days, then you must complete the full 10 day self-isolation period.'
The Department for Education’s updated guidance for higher education providers on students returning to, and starting, higher education in Spring Term 2021 outlines a comprehensive list of considerations students should be aware of before arriving in the UK (from page 26). This includes ensuring students ‘book and pay for a travel test package at a cost of £210, which will include coronavirus (COVID-19) tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of quarantine after arriving in the UK’. Students should be aware that a university’s asymptomatic testing process does not exempt them from having to book and pay for a travel test package.
'Quarantine hotel' is the term being used to describe managed self-isolation which applies to some travellers to the UK as of 15 February 2021. You can find out more here. Key points include:
UUKi understands that those with residence rights in the UK will still be permitted to enter the UK from a 'red list' country, and understand that this would include: holders of Indefinite Leave to Remain; holders of existing leave to enter or remain (i.e those with biometric Residence permits) or an entry clearance/visa that grants such leave e.g. students, workers, etc (excluding visit visas); holders of EU Settlement Scheme ("EUSS") leave; those who have rights of entry under the Withdrawal Agreements (including returning residents with a right of residence under the EEA Regulations and EEA frontier workers); family members of EEA nationals with rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Please see the relevant FCDO travel page of the destination you are travelling from for the latest travel information.
Please note the government guidance below on student travel over the winter period, and if you are a student, we recommend that you speak to your university before making any travel arrangements.
The Department for Education's updated guidance for higher education providers on students returning to, and starting, higher education in Spring Term 2021 outlines that 'As for domestic students, international students are also allowed to return home once for their Easter break, which includes a journey involving overseas travel. However, in order to minimise transmission, and because travel restrictions could change whilst students are overseas, making it harder for students to get back into England, we would strongly advise students not to travel, and to remain in their term-time accommodation. Prior to travel, travellers must complete a travel declaration form demonstrating that they have a legal reason to travel.' (page 30)
In England: Please see above questions on England's roadmap.
In Scotland: Please see above questions on Scotland's framework.
In Wales: On 8 January, the Welsh Government published updated Covid-19 guidance for higher education providers in Wales. In a written statement published alongside the guidance, the Welsh Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, outlined the Welsh Government’s approach to students, staff and universities during this period, saying that it remains the same as the rest of the population: “Stay home, work or study from home if you can. Only attend your place of work or study if you can’t work from home.” The statement does not confirm specific return dates, but states that universities will let students know when they should return to campus.
In Northern Ireland: guidance regarding student return to campus can be found
here. This includes: 'students are encouraged to stay at home until required to be at University', and 'students who returned home over the winter break should be encouraged not to return to their term-time accommodation until face-to-face teaching is scheduled to resume.'
Students should initially contact their universities as they may have additional support in place and hardship funds that students are able to access. Measures introduced by the UK government to support hardship as a result of Covid-19 can be accessed by international students. Information on these schemes can be found here. It is unlikely that international students would be eligible to claim Universal Credit. Further information on this can be found on the UKCISA website.
We would always recommend that students carefully plan their financing, but this is especially important given the current precarious situation. For more information on working during studies, students should refer to the
In government advice, current students may continue their studies via distance learning, whether from the UK or abroad, for the entirety of the 2020-21 academic year. New international students who do not currently hold a Student visa may commence their studies via distance learning, but must gain a Student visa before travelling to the UK.
To get more doctors and nurses on the frontline, the Home Office has
lifted the restriction on the amount of hours student nurses and doctors can work in the NHS. On top of these changes, pre-registered overseas nurses who are currently required to sit their first skills test within three months and to pass the test within eight months, will now have this deadline extended to the end of the year as well. This will give overseas nurses more time to pass their exams, whilst they spend the immediate term working on the frontline. Trainee doctors and nurses will also not be limited by the number of hours they can work in the NHS during term time.
Students who have work rights and are employed by an NHS Trust as a doctor, nurse or paramedic will not be restricted to 20 hours work per week during term time and may work without limit on the number of hours permitted. The existing rules regarding volunteering and undertaking voluntary work as set out in the
Student caseworker guidance will still apply during this period.
Right to work checks have been temporarily adjusted due to coronavirus. This is to make it easier for employers to carry them out. As of 30 March 2020, the following temporary changes have been made:
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded doctoral students in their final year
will receive an extension to their research with additional grants, known as a costed extension, of up to six months so that students are able to complete their studies. If PhDs are funded through other mechanisms, students should check the latest advice available from the relevant funding body and contact their university with any concerns.
Where a Tier 4/Student visa has expired, students are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK where it is possible to do so or apply to regularise stay in the UK. If a student intends to leave the UK but has not been able to do so (e.g. due to self-isolation) and they have a visa or leave that expires between 1 December 2020 and 31 January 2021, they may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance'. UUK understands that visa holders who have applied for 'exceptional assurance' do not need to update the police of this, as this is only a short-term measure designed to protect individuals in exceptional cases. For further information please see Home Office Tier 4/Student visa guidance.
Please also check the 'current international students' tab for further information on current entry requirements to the UK.
Will students be able to secure their Tier 4/Student visa if they are outside of their home country and unable to return home?
What is the guidance for students who need an ATAS certification to begin their studies?
What should an individual do if their 30 or 90 day visa to work, study or join family has expired?
What advice can be given to students who have paid a deposit for their course, but are unable to take up their place due to Covid-19?
Are visa application centres still closed around the world?
The Home Office has confirmed that if students are required to either continue their current studies or commence a new course by distance or blended learning due to Covid-19, they will still be eligible to switch into the Graduate route on a concessionary basis if they spent some time studying outside the UK. Students who complete courses in summer 2021, including those who commenced a one-year Masters programme in September 2020, will benefit from this concession.
This means that international students who complete courses in summer 2021:
Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2021 via distance learning and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will also benefit from this concession, provided they enter the UK on or before 27 September 2021.
Further information about the Graduate route can be found here and here.
Switching into the Student route from a number of different immigration categories within the UK is permitted. Slightly different rules may apply for those on Short Term Study or Visitor visas. Please refer to the
government guidance and
UKCISA help pages for more advice.
UKVI are now accepting ATAS applications. Processing times will increase between the months of April and September and can take 30 or more working days to complete.
Students whose 30 or 90 day passport vignette to travel to the UK has expired, or is about to expire, can request a replacement 90 day vignette with revised validity dates. As of 1 January 2021, there is a charge of £154 for this service, and the Home Office strongly advise that you only apply to replace an expired vignette when you are confident you can travel to the UK. To apply for a replacement vignette, students can refer to the
Does student mobility fall under a legally permitted reason to travel outside of the UK?
Will students or staff be required to complete the participant survey under Force Majeure?
Is there any guidance available for Erasmus+ students?
Erasmus Mundus master's degree
Institutions should consult the National Agency Mobility Tool+ guidance during Covid-19, which helps institutions process Key Action 103 and 107 Force Majeure cases. The guidance can be accessed here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/file/31126/download
It can also be found on this page, under the section "Guides".
The guidance covers scenarios around:
Please note that it is based on information available to the UK National Agency to date and subject to change, considering that the current situation is still evolving. This document is intended as a guide for processing a wide range of scenarios, and whilst it may not be exhaustive, it provides an understanding of how to use the force majeure function on the Mobility Tool+ and record mobilities affected by Covid-19. Please contact the British Council for any further queries.
Education for academic studies or professional qualifications where physical presence is required or where activities must be completed overseas is listed as a legally permitted reason for international travel on the UK government webpage. Students leaving the UK for mobility should be aware that all travellers must complete a travel declaration form to declare the reason that they need to travel abroad. Alongside the declaration form, recommended evidence is a letter or proof of membership of an academic institution. More information can be found here.
Please consult the National Agency Mobility Tool+ guidance. The European Commission has also stated that recent higher education or VET graduates who need to postpone their planned placements abroad will be allowed to take them up within 18 months of their graduation, instead of the normal 12 month timeframe.
Please contact the UK National Agency in the first instance.
Extensions have been offered for KA103 and KA107. Institutions which have not heard back about a request for an extension, or still want to extend, should
contact the UK National Agency.
Force Majeure guidance can be found in the National Agency Mobility Tool+ guidance during Covid-19: The guidance can be accessed here: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/file/31126/download
In 2020, the European Commission clarified that virtual mobility can be used for any future mobilities (i.e. new mobilities taking place from now onwards). Erasmus+ participants can be offered the possibility to start their mobility through virtual activities, with the aim to combine the online learning/working with a physical mobility abroad at a later date, if and when the situation allows for it. The EC have issued the following guidance for Key Action 103 and 107, and this should be applied to any new mobilities. This guidance is for all active projects. Please be aware that this guidance is for all National Agencies, and as such you may be contacted with requests for incoming virtual mobility.
Students (applicable for both studies and traineeships)
Please see the guidance published by the
Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) on Erasmus Mundus activities interrupted because of Covid-19. For further information you can
contact the EACEA.
TNE providers need to make sure that the quality and integrity of teaching and assessments does not suffer as a result of moving to online learning, and that students are appropriately supported. They also need to factor in any accessibility constraints of students and staff, and keep an eye on regulations operating in the country for online distance learning. Some sector bodies such as Jisc are working to provide country-specific guidance on operating distance learning in key TNE host countries. In the UK, a number of online resources are being made available to support universities and university staff through this transition:
Communication and engagement are key for successful collaborative provision. In an environment where reciprocal visits are hindered by restrictions to mobility, universities can use digital collaborative tools to engage with overseas TNE partners.
Jisc have published a series of collaborative online tools including guidance to support interactions between partners (with a focus on education and business and community engagement).
The FCO has updated its global advisory. Under current UK Covid-19 restrictions, international travel is not permitted unless travellers have a legally permitted reason to do so. Different reasons apply in the different nations of the UK. In England, travel for work is allowed, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, for those who cannot reasonably do so from home.
From 4.00am on 18 January, inbound travel to England, Scotland, or Wales, including UK nationals returning home from travel abroad, requires evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result taken up to three days before departure. Travel corridors will be suspended and anyone arriving in the UK after 4.00am on Monday 18 January will need to self-isolate for 10 days.
Under current conditions, staff who would normally have travelled overseas to teach students on TNE programmes may decide to conduct their business remotely. Universities should ensure that those staff are appropriately supported and that the quality of teaching does not suffer as a result of the lack of face-to-face instruction, under the same conditions they apply to students and staff based in the UK.
Staff based overseas may decide to remain in the territory where the TNE programmes are delivered. It is up to each university to decide what support and advice they offer to staff who remain overseas, although they should ensure that staff are aware of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice and that appropriate communication and support measures are in place. Universities should make sure that insurance is valid in view of FCDO advice against travel. University staff teaching or working on TNE programmes overseas must also follow travel advice and guidance provided by local authorities, as well as observing the travel advice and guidance provided by their country of citizenship.
For instance, the Ministry of Education of the Popular Republic of China and CSCSE has confirmed that it will allow students who are enrolled on in-person courses, but unable to study abroad due to Covid-19, to have their qualifications recognised. This only applies to full-time registered students studying online as a result of their universities' Covid-19 mitigation measures. It should not be interpreted as a change in the policy for recognition of online delivery more broadly.
UK NARIC have published a guide to recognition issues in international distance learning, focusing on China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. This report is designed to complement the information on quality assurance and qualifications made available to UK NARIC members on its international comparisons database, along with specific information on the recognition and regulation of transnational education in over 50 countries.