Free vaccines for all international students aged 18 years and above, regardless of nationality or immigration status
Headed to the UK for higher studies? Vaccinated or not, you must quarantine yourself on landing in the UK, especially since India is on the red list in terms of the pandemic.
Jonathan Kennedy, director Arts India, British Council India, clarified that the UK government’s current rules do not make it mandatory for international students entering the country to be vaccinated, but added that getting the shots is likely to prove more convenient and ensure greater safety.
“We encourage all international students to receive a vaccine, either in their home country before arriving, or in the UK after their entry. Those entering the UK from red-listed countries will have to quarantine as per government guidelines, regardless of their vaccine status,” Kennedy said.
Free vaccine for overseas students
The UK has taken several measures to ensure that the vaccine is available to international students studying there, with support from its National Health Service (NHS) which provides world-class healthcare. Now, all students arriving in the UK aged 18 years and above will receive free vaccination irrespective of their nationality and immigration status.
“Anybody aged 18 or over in the UK is eligible for free COVID-19 vaccination, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. For more information on the UK’s vaccination programme, students can visit the NHS website. Students studying in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should refer to the relevant guidelines by visiting the respective government websites,” Kennedy said.
‘Red list’ travel ban under review
India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, on a recent visit to the UK to take stock of the Roadmap 2030 towards closer UK-India ties, urged the UK Foreign Office to consider a review of the travel ban on visitors from the country. But until that happens, students visiting the UK will have to abide by the travel curbs for arrival from red-listed countries.
“The UK is following a ‘traffic light’ system for international travel. However, people with a valid student visa or with resident rights in the UK according to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) are exempted, though they will need to quarantine after arrival regardless of their vaccination status,” Kennedy added.
Travel and arrival advice
Universities are working hard to ensure that the students know what to expect before they travel, and that they are welcomed and supported on arrival. “But it is important to note that the travel and arrival advice will vary in the UK’s four nations — Britain, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All students travelling to the UK should refer to the official website of the relevant country to get updated information on rules and regulations to be followed,” Kennedy said.
There are some measures one would need to follow before and after arrival.
You will need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days on arrival at your own expense (currently set at £1,750).
You must book your hotel stay and two coronavirus tests after you arrive. The hotel package will cover the cost of transport, food, accommodation, security and testing.
You must take a COVID-19 test up to 72 hours before you travel. You will need to take your pre-booked tests on Day 2 and Day 8 of your quarantine.
You will only be able to enter Wales from red-list countries via a designated port of entry in England or Scotland and isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel.
You will need to follow the relevant guidelines for arriving in England or Scotland and complete a passenger locator form; provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test; and book and pay for your hotel stay and your testing package.
You cannot transit to Wales until you have completed quarantine.
If you are travelling from a country on the red list, you will need to complete a passenger locator form; take a COVID-19 test; and book and pay for a quarantine hotel package, including two COVID-19 tests.
If you are travelling from a red-list country through England, you must quarantine in England before travelling to Scotland. You will not need to isolate for a second time.
If you are travelling directly from a red-listed country, you must complete a passenger locator form; provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test; and self isolate for 10 days along with all household members, even if they have not travelled.
If you are travelling via Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland, you must follow the respective rules for that country. That may mean quarantining in a government-approved hotel for 10 days before you travel on to Northern Ireland.
“Universities in the UK are preparing to welcome students for the start of the new academic year in September 2021. They are preparing to deliver high-quality teaching, in line with government guidance that ensures that the health and safety of everyone remains a top priority,” Kennedy signed off.