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Foreign Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Labour, Ilford North

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his department is taking to support international students with (a) accommodation, (b) visas, (c) financial hardship and (c) access to healthcare during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

Urgent work is underway in the Department for Education and the Office for Students to ensure that we have the appropriate policy response in place to respond to the impact of Covid-19 on the higher education sector and its students, including international students.

Our priority is preventing the spread of Covid-19 while doing everything possible to mitigate the impact on learning and attainment and to protect the sustainability and capacity of the provider base and colleges for the future.

We recognise that this is an unprecedented situation and that it will require an unprecedented response. I have been working closely with representatives of the sector in developing this, including joining representatives from a sector coordination group on 16 March, convened by Universities UK, where we discussed a number of the issues raised by the hon. Member for Ilford North.

With respect to visas specifically, the Home Office published Covid-19 visa guidance for overseas nationals in February, and international students are invited to contact the Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Helpline if they have any specific concerns regarding their own visa status. Details are easily accessible on the Home Office’s website, available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk.

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