The Government has announced that unless you are in the group of students able to travel back to university for in-person teaching and learning (see above), you should stay where you are at this stage, before a decision is made on further return. The Government will announce this decision by the end of the Easter holidays.
If you have already booked travel but you are not on a course prioritised for return on 8 March, you should consider delaying if those travel arrangements can be rearranged without undue costs.
New international students are able to commence a course by distance learning from outside the UK without a visa, and do not require sponsorship under the Student route while they are studying outside the UK. You should be aware that visa concessions allow for the ongoing provision of online learning for the duration of academic year 2020-21.
If you are on one of the courses that have been prioritised for return on 8 March, and are making travel plans to come to the UK to study, you should:
- check additional entry requirements and restrictions that have been introduced due to coronavirus (COVID-19) before travelling to the UK, including whether the country you are travelling from is on the UK’s red list - see GOV.UK for more information
- check with your higher education provider in advance to confirm when face-to-face teaching begins
- inform your higher education provider when you intend to arrive on campus so that you can be appropriately supported.
You should be aware that all inbound travellers to the UK (including international and domestic students) will have to take a COVID-19 test up to three days before departure and provide evidence of a negative result before you travel. All international arrivals will be required to complete a passenger locator form on arrival.
You should also be aware that everyone must book a travel test package before travelling to the UK – this costs £210. You must take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 after you arrive for variant surveillance and a test on or after day 8 to check that you do not have COVID-19. This can be booked using the travel package booking portal.
Students travelling from red list countries
The UK has introduced travel bans for arrivals from some countries (otherwise referred to as ‘red list’ countries) as part of measures taken to protect the UK from new strands of COVID-19. You should check the list of 'red list’ countries that will be regularly updated and can be found on GOV.UK. British and Irish nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights (e.g. students) in the UK, will still able to enter the UK if they have been in, or transited through, a 'red list’ country in the last 10 days, but they will be required to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel on arrival for 10 days without exception. Residence rights include those with an entry clearance/visa that grants such leave, for example students, holders of existing leave to enter or remain e.g. those students with biometric residence permits, and holders of EU Settlement Scheme ('EUSS') leave.
The costs of quarantining in a hotel will be borne by the traveller and are currently set at £1,750. See more information on quarantine hotels.
You cannot use the Test to Release scheme if you have been in or through a ‘red list’ country in the 10 days before you arrive in England.
Students NOT travelling from red list countries
If you have not been in or transited through a red list country for 10 days you should self-isolate immediately in your own accommodation for 10 days.
You will need to take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 of your quarantine period. The day of arrival in England will be treated as day zero. This first test is designed to help identify any potentially harmful variants of COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity. Tests will be taken in your own accommodation. There is more information available on GOV.UK.
International arrivals from countries not on the red list have the option to reduce their self-isolation period by taking a coronavirus (COVID-19) test from a private testing provider five full days after arriving in England, with a negative result releasing them from the need to self-isolate. More information on the Test to Release Scheme can be found online.
If you are planning to use the Test to Release scheme, you should be aware that you must still take a test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, unless you’re exempt. Even if you get a negative result from Test to Release and are released from self-isolation, you will still need to take a test on or after day 8 to check that you do not have COVID-19.