The sun rose on January 1st in the year 2020, marking a turn of the decade. The 21st Century has now stepped into the 2020s, instilling people with a little bit of hope for the months to come. By the time the month of March arrived, the majority of the world was now facing an unparalleled health crisis and global emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic made it imperative for governments to take drastic measures to safeguard their people’s health and well-being. Along with many other countries around the world, the United Kingdom imposed lockdowns and released orders for remote work, school closures, online learning, and social distancing guidelines.

Travel bans, both within the UK and to other (EU and non-EU) countries left many stranded. Concerns for those visiting the UK for work, education, or travel purposes had concerns regarding overstaying their visas as flights and borders in the UK and other countries closed temporarily. Among other overseas people in the UK, international students currently enrolled and seeking admission in UK universities feared the repercussions of the pandemic. As universities switched to online learning and campuses closed down to minimise the spread of the virus, international students with visas approaching expiry were figuring out how to extend their stay or go back home.

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It was not only international students who were worried about accommodations, studies, and their visas. On the flip side, UK universities were concerned about enrolments for the coming academic year as fall applications had yet to be assessed in 2020. Based on general assumptions, early predictions showed that international enrolment numbers would decline during and after the pandemic. With uncertainty regarding travel bans, virus transmission, and COVID-19 vaccines, universities in the UK expected fewer international students. However, the situation, in reality, is far from these predictions.

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)

According to a publication by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), UK universities are set to get a record number of international enrolments – despite the ongoing global pandemic. To be more specific, universities in the UK experienced a 9% increase in non-EU international student enrolments in 2020. This fact led to rest the UK universities’ concerns regarding falling international student numbers and the financial loss that comes with it.

Even though the numbers for international enrolments for the year 2021 are yet to be recorded and the pandemic continues, international students are continuing to pursue higher education in the UK. While there are various reasons for international students choosing UK universities, today we’ll be looking at the changes made during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they’re swaying applicant decisions to study in the UK. Let’s begin.

International students can now apply for Student visa early

Under previous regulations, international students who had been admitted to a HEI(higher education institute) sponsor university had to apply for their general UK student visa six months before their courses commenced. This left little room for international students to finalise their arrangements while still worrying about whether they’ll be able to make their way to the UK or not.

During the pandemic, this regulation was revised to accommodate travelling restrictions and necessary quarantining. Now, international university applicants in the UK can apply for their Student visa six months before the degree begins. The UKVI issues entry clearance permission for three months, meaning they can come to the UK three months before the course commences. This will allow them to arrive in the UK earlier and go through self-quarantine before classes start.

English language at uk universities
English Language at UK Universities

Students can start learning online

There is an ongoing debate regarding how international students will be missing out on the UK university experience due to the pandemic as classes are taking place online for the most part. Both academic and social aspects of university life living on campus and near college towns take away some of the charms of studying abroad. While that is true on some levels, it allows international students to begin learning online without having to travel to the UK. As per Boris Johnson’s latest address regarding school closures, academic institutes are likely to continue online for now.

Whenever on-campus classes commence, universities will likely call students back on a staggered basis. Students will be called back in small groups once the vaccines are rolled out properly across the UK. This means that courses will be covered using a hybrid model and students won’t be forced to attend classes in person. International students will be able to start attending classes online instead of missing out. They will be receiving the same quality of education that UK universities are touted for and get an accredited degree.

Housing and other coverage for international students

The UK government has sought to provide as much assistance and support for its UK and international student population as possible. UK universities are supposed to cover housing, food, and bills for students with COVID-19 symptoms living in university and college residences or HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation).

Students are supposed to inform their hall managers and landlords whether they are symptomatic themselves or living with someone showing them. In tandem with the university the Local Health Protection Team will assess the risk and give their decision regarding self-isolation and quarantining. The university will cover the costs for the students while they are in self-isolation and make sure they receive medicine and food as needed.

Impact of covid-19 on international students attending uk universities
Covid-19 and its impact on international students attending uk universities 4

Non-Eviction Policy

Before the government announced the policy change, landlords in the UK evicted tenants with expired visas, even during the pandemic.

However, international students don’t have to worry about being stranded as the non-eviction policy in institutions prevents students from having to leave despite their contracts being up.

Free Vaccine Access

In December of 2020, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was tested and rolled out in the UK. In a letter, Michelle Donelan confirmed that international students in UK universities will be able to access it as they can access healthcare. This means that older international students and those with underlying health problems will be getting the vaccine first.

Final thoughts

International students, both prospective and currently enrolled in a UK university, worried about the turn of events and the state of their academic endeavours can have some sense of comfort.

Despite the pandemic, UK universities and government are both putting in efforts to ensure success for international students. Aspiring students can continue making plans to pursue an education in the UK. Contact us in case you need further assistance.


How has Covid changed the way students learn?

In a survey done in May 2022, more than 80% of public education said that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused “stunted behavioural and socioemotional development” in their academics, a 56% rise in “classroom disruptions from student misconduct,” and a 49% rise in “rowdiness outside of the classroom.”

What does Covid mean for international students?

Lack of social life, cultural activities, and sports: the lockdown, the curfew, and the general atmosphere have all had a big effect on international students, who also can’t go home to see their family members.

Is it still safe to go to school in the UK?

Students should be happy to know that most universities offer a high level of safety and security all over their campuses.

Should you go to university in the UK in 2022?

The UK is one of the best places to study abroad because it has well-known universities with a wide range of courses. If you choose to take the best courses in the UK, you can improve your skills and make sure you get the best jobs.