To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department has provided to international students studying in the UK during the covid-19 outbreak to help mitigate for the diminished opportunities available to those students to undertake casual work alongside their studies.
The government recognises that the COVID-19 outbreak has had unparalleled impact on all elements of the global and UK economy, and this academic year has been difficult for all students.
To protect students at this unprecedented time, particularly those who may have been planning to undertake a part time job, we have made an additional £85 million of student hardship funding available to higher education providers in the 2020/21 academic year. This is in addition to the £256 million of government funded student premium funding already available to higher education (HE) providers to draw on for this academic year, 2020/21.
Providers have flexibility in how they distribute this funding to their students, in a way that best prioritises those in greatest need. Support can include help for students, including international students and postgraduates, facing additional costs arising from having to maintain accommodation in more than one location or assistance to help students access teaching remotely.
The current measures aim to target support for students in greatest need, and we have been consistently clear that if an international student needs to request access to hardship funds through their provider due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, they can be confident in expressing these concerns to their provider without any impact on their immigration status.
The HE sector has also led some valuable work in this area. For example, Universities UK international published guidance for universities to support international students in financial hardship, and in March they wrote to all UK-based embassies to ensure international students are aware of the support available to them if required. This guidance is available here: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Pages/guidance-support-international-student-hardship-pandemic.aspx/.
To further support students in finding work post-graduation, the department has worked with the HE sector to understand what more we can do to support graduates who are looking to enter the labour market at this challenging time. In response, we have developed the Graduate Employment and Skills Guide, which was published on Monday 10 May 2021 on the Office for Students website. The guide signposts graduates to public, private and voluntary sector opportunities, to help students build employability skills, gain work experience or enter the labour market, as well as providing links to further study options and resources on graduate mental health and wellbeing.