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 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?
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?
As of 19 July, Scotland has moved to Level 0 of its roadmap. Guidance for universities can be found
The guidance says that international students ‘should delay travel to Scotland until required to commence face-to-face teaching or if they have another reasonable excuse for entering and remaining in the country, bearing in mind that (dependant on the country they are travelling from) they may have to undergo 10 days isolation’.
The Scottish Government have also published guidance for a ‘beyond level 0’ scenario (currently projected to start on 9 August) available here. The guidance states that international students ‘will be subject to the same travel guidance, and any regulations that are in force for the whole population of Scotland’ and that universities will determine and provide adequate and tailored support to international students, alongside relevant communications.
As of 17 July, Wales is completing the move to alert level 1 of its plan. Higher education guidance can be found here. From 7 August, if conditions allow, it is expected that Wales will move to level 0. More information can be found here.
Entry requirements differ across the UK and are subject to change. Please check the government guidance regularly if you are planning to travel to the UK.
There is currently a traffic light system in place for entering England. Read more
The Department for Education’s
updated guidance from Step 4 outlines a comprehensive list of considerations students should be aware of before arriving in the UK. We strongly recommend all students are aware of all of these requirements to avoid any disruption to their plans.
Guidance is here.
Guidance for international students travelling to Wales is
Guidance is here.
The Department for Education’s updated (July) guidance for higher education providers outlines a comprehensive list of considerations students should be aware of before arriving in the UK - found in this section: 'new and returning students travelling from overseas.'
'Quarantine hotel' is the term being used to describe managed quarantine which applies to some travellers to the UK. You can find out more here.
It has been confirmed that anybody aged 18 or over in the UK is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. This appears in the
NHS England Covid-19 vaccination FAQs: students in Higher Education Institutions.
NHS England FAQ also confirms:
Please note, this FAQ applies to England only.
The vaccination programme is managed by devolved governments in the rest of the UK and colleagues should refer to the latest government information in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Wales higher education guidance confirms that 'Eligibility for the vaccine applies equally to international students and staff.'
Unless you have been fully vaccinated under the UK vaccination programme, you will likely need to self-isolate for up to 10 days if coming from an amber list country. You can self-isolate in your accommodation (such as university halls), rather than in a quarantine hotel, but you will need to declare where you are self-isolating on your passenger locator form. There are also requirements around testing, before and after arrival, which you need to be aware of. Check the latest government guidance for
Northern Ireland, and check with your university before travelling.
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, until 27 September 2021. Between this date and 6 April 2022, only sponsored students who are unable to travel to the UK may engage in distance learning (although those in the UK may undertake blended learning, provided there is also a certain amount of face-to-face contact). 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. Trainee doctors and nurses will also not be limited by the number of hours they can work in the NHS during term time. This applies until 30 September.
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, until 31 August 2021, 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 to return to a country or territory currently listed as amber or red but has not been able to do so (e.g. due to self-isolation) and they have a visa or leave that expires before 30 September 2021, they may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance'. This may also apply to those unable to return to countries or territories listed as green in exceptional circumstances. 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, as will those starting courses via distance learning before 6 April 2022.
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.
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.
Students switching in-country must normally apply to study a course that commences no more than 28 days after their current period of permission expires, but the Home Office have said they will exercise discretion on this requirement if the start date of the new course named on the CAS is no later than 27 September 2021. This concession applies to students who already hold permission on the Student, Tier 4, or Child Student routes. Please refer to guidance here.
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
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.
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.
NHS England COVID-19 vaccination FAQs: students in Higher Education Institutions confirms that, in these circumstances in England, 'The student should contact the health service in the country where they are resident at the time the second dose is due.'
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.