Visa Crunch

In the face of capacity concerns, providers are pushing for quarantine alternatives in the UK

Universities in the UK have been granting financial assistance to international students from countries on the red list to cover the expense of quarantine, but plans for September are still being worked out as the sector and government try to figure out how to deal with the surge of students. 

Those from nations on the “red list” must stay at a government-approved and certified hotel to quarantine for ten days.

In February, the UK instituted quarantine hotels for incoming travellers who had visited or transited specific countries. Those from nations on the “red list” must pay £1,750 to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for ten days.

Following an increase in instances due to a novel COVID variant in India, the second-largest source market for international students after China was added to the red list on April 23.

Alternative quarantine procedures are now being pushed by private suppliers and some universities. 

According to University Living CEO Saurabh Arora, PBSA’s are “certainly willing to confine students from red-list nations.”

Many of their housing partners, particularly in the UK and Australia, have declared that they have the capability to do so, according to him.

A few universities’ and PBSA leaders said in a recent webinar that they have made it known to the authorities that they are willing to allow international students to quarantine at their accommodation facilities while adhering to all government protocols. 

One of the main worries of proponents of on-campus or PBSA quarantining is whether quarantine hotel accommodations for red list countries will be appropriate.

In a recent interview with The PIE, James Pitman, managing director of development for UK and Europe at Study Group, claimed that if Indian students are still on the red list in September, one may be talking about 50,000 students. And if things continue to stay the same, it’s only these quarantine hotels where there just won’t be students. Furthermore, it is prohibitively expensive for students.

A representative for the Department of Health and Social care told the PIE that the government has thousands of hotel rooms available and ongoing agreements with a number of hotels over the summer, but they shall not disclose exact capacity estimates.

Various institutions have chosen to cover quarantine costs in full or in part for students who were enrolled in January and May intakes. 

The University of Salford will cover up to £750 for eligible overseas students starting courses this month, while the University of Lincoln will repay the whole cost of quarantine following enrolment and provide a free shuttle service from the hotel to Lincoln. The University of Bristol also announced its teaching intentions for the upcoming academic year, stating that they “will reimburse the students for the cost of their hotel stay.”

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