International students planning to go to the UK to start or resume higher studies will be looking for information, updates, and support on various fronts including travel, campus policies, vaccinations, fees, and well-being.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has issued an advisory, along with some initiatives, to help such students coming from across the globe so that their problems, queries, and requests are resolved by the right channels in the best possible ways.
For students who experience issues while in the UK, the UKCISA advises them to first reach out to their education provider directly. Most institutions have student support and services teams who ensure the well-being of their students and offer help on issues such as mental health. There are designated and dedicated international student officers/leaders part of the students’ union at most institutions.
The council also shares information and advice on coping with life in the UK, immigration requirements, vaccinations, and assistance via a helpline. The UK government offers vaccination, treatment, and testing for COVID-19 free of charge to everyone in the country irrespective of their immigration status.
The UKCISA is also focusing on developing an International Student Charter in line with the UK government’s International Education Strategy. The #WeAreInternational Student Ambassadors program is another step in improving student experience and sharing learnings with the select candidates who work on identifying the factors contributing to the best student experiences for international students in the UK and make them feel part of a global student community.
It has also sought help from external organizations such as Student Minds that support and provide mental health resources, and the National Union of Students that focuses on student rights. In case a student has any complaints pertaining to their institute of college, they can reach out to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. Leaving one’s home country to study abroad is a big step and one’s experience can turn out to be different from what they expected.
“We want to make the experience of all international students valuable, worthwhile, and full of opportunity,” said the UKCISA in a statement. It will also conduct a series of webinars and virtual events from Nov. 15 to 17 for students, policy makers, universities and experts. The UKCISA has cautioned students against spam and spurious calls and emails that appear to be legitimate from offices such as the UK Home Office, embassies, government departments, etc.
The council will also hold an annual fest in mid-November to mark International Students’ Day. The event aims to bring together international students across the UK so that they can share experiences and ideas pertaining to issues such as post-study options, immigration, and country life, among others.