UK universities look to fly overseas students into the country

Steve Lumley·9 July 2020·4 min read
UK universities look to fly overseas students into the country

A growing number of universities in the UK are looking to charter flights in a bid to bring overseas students to study in the country this year, it has been revealed.

The news will bring relief to those landlords with private student accommodation and are worried about whether overseas students will return in September after the impact from the Covid-19 lockdown.

Some countries are still restricting travel but according to one leading higher education news outlet, discussions are underway between companies and universities to arrange flights.

The aim is to ensure students from India and China can return to the UK and begin their studies in the country and avoid potential complications because there are few scheduled services.

Among the universities that have already chartered flights include Queens University Belfast, which will fly in students from Beijing in September.

The University of Bolton has also revealed that it is looking to fly students in from China, India, as well as Africa.

Potential of chartering flights for overseas students

And now Universities UK International says it is looking to support institutions who are examining the potential of chartering flights for overseas students.

The organisation’s assistant director of policy, Jamie Arrowsmith, said that the preferred outcome for universities is to use scheduled airline services.

However, universities appreciate that there is a demand from overseas students wanting to come to the UK later this year and by chartering flights they will overcome their travel barriers.

According to their travel experts, the cost for chartering a flight from Beijing will cost around £900 per person on a full flight, which is less than a scheduled service will cost.

Potential quarantine period

There are also issues over any potential quarantine period and transferring students to their campus.

In a bid to work around this problem, universities are looking into working together on a regional basis to offer the flight service and also spread any potential risk.

Those areas with universities looking at charter flight possibilities include South Wales, the Midlands, North West England and South West England.

New immigration laws may affect UK student landlords

Meanwhile, student landlords who have tenants from overseas need to be aware that the UK’s immigration system will be moving to a points-based offering from 1 January 2021.

The policy has been unveiled by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and under the new criteria, anyone wishing to move to the UK will need to reach a minimum of 70 points. The new system will apply to non-EU and EU citizens equally.

And since landlords in England have to meet the ‘Right to Rent’ regulations, it is predicted that the rules will still be applicable, which means that letting agents and landlords need to ensure that student tenants have the right to live in the UK.

For landlords with student accommodation

However, for landlords with student accommodation, the Government's current advice is that the student tenants will be assessed under the points-based immigration system but will face slightly different issues.

Along with needing to prove that they have an offer from an approved college or university, the overseas students also need to show they can support themselves during their studies and also speak English