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Tips for attending UK universities during the COVID-19 crisis

Tips for attending UK universities during the COVID-19 crisis

Congratulations! You've been accepted into your university, you've arranged your transport and you've packed your bags (don't forget the face mask)! Now all you need to do is settle in and begin your university experience. Whether you're a first-year student or a returning academic, university is looking a little different for everyone this year – and for international students, the idea of flying across the world for their degrees is more daunting than ever before. But fear not, because here at Course Index, we've made a list of tips and tricks to help you navigate these unprecedented times with as little disruption to your university experience as possible.

I'm an international student, what happens if I test positive whilst I'm in the UK?

The National Health Service (NHS) is available for all international students whilst they are here studying. There is also specific COVID advice available through the new COVID-19 online service: just visit or call 111.

Part of the Tier 4 visa applications means applicants are required to pay the Immigration Health surcharge, which costs £300 per year per student. Once this has been paid you have complete access to all NHS services without further charges.

My university is still doing in-class lectures so I have to be in the UK, what happens when I arrive?

Some universities are offering all their classes virtually, so some international students do not even need to be in the UK. Many universities, however, will have blended learning opportunities in place, with a mixture of in-person and digital sessions. If you are attending one of the universities still conducting face-to-face lectures, you will need to take the necessary steps to comply safely with the rules.

This includes having to ensure you supply your contact and accommodation information, and self-isolating in your accommodation for 14 days once you have arrived.

I'm in my final year, but I want to stay in the UK to find work, will this still be possible?

Yes! The government has recently announced a new scheme called the Graduate Immigration Route, which will be available for international students who hold a valid Tier 4 visa and have completed an undergraduate degree or above. One of the most stressful things for international students is working out what their future looks like after their course – especially during a pandemic – so this is a very welcome option for them.

Successful applicants in this scheme will be able to stay and work or apply for jobs in the UK for a maximum of two years. If you have recently completed a Ph.D., you will be able to stay for three years. This new scheme will be launched in the summer of 2021, so for all international students graduating this winter or summer, the scheme will apply for you. The new scheme will also require a new visa application, as you will be transitioning out of full-time education.

The exact fee for this is yet to be confirmed, but we know it will require a visa fee payment and also the Immigration Health surcharge of £300 as mentioned earlier. If your Tier 4 leave expires before summer 2021 you will, unfortunately, not be eligible. International students who are in the UK before 6 April 2020 will still be able to apply to the two-year Graduate Route, even if you started your degree online before travelling to the UK due to COVID restrictions.