UK universities are preparing for the new semester in September 2021, with a range of measures expected to be in place for overseas students.
Indian students, as one of the largest groups of international students enrolling at UK universities over the past year, are set to benefit from an extension of the entry deadline to qualify for the new post-study work (PSW) visa. The Graduate route visa, commonly referred to as a PSW visa, allows eligible overseas students to work, or look for work for two years after completing their courses.
It was launched by the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel last year. Under the application requirements, students undertaking their courses long-distance given the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were expected to be present in the UK by June 21, 2021, for the Graduate route. However, the Home Office amended its guidance last week to extend that deadline to September 27, 2021.
“Applicants who began their studies in Autumn 2020 have until September 27, 2021, to enter the UK with permission as a student (updated from the previous date of June 21, 2021) in order to be eligible to apply to the Graduate route. Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by September 27, 2021,” reads the Home Office updated guidance.
The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU) was among the student representatives campaigning for an extension ever since India was placed on the ‘red list’ travel ban on April 23, 2021, amid a spike in Delta variant infections. While Indian students with a valid UK student visa are permitted to fly to the country, many have had to postpone their plans in the face of the health impact of India’s second wave and also the additional cost burden of around GBP 1,750 associated with a compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine on arrival in Britain.
“Since India’s entry onto the red list a few months ago, NISAU has been requesting the Home Office to consider an extension of the June 21, 2021, entry deadline for Indian students to be in the UK as a condition of eligibility for the Graduate route”, said NISAU UK chair Sanam Arora. “We are delighted that the Home Office has accepted our request and know that this will significantly help many students who are unable to travel given the Covid situation in India right now. Huge sigh of relief”, she further said.
According to the most recent Home Office statistics from earlier this month, there was a 6,391 increase in the number of study visa grants to Indian nationals in the year ending March 2021, marking a 13 per cent hike over the previous year. It indicates that most Indian students remain keen to take up their courses in the UK despite the constraints of the pandemic and travel requirements. UK universities are, meanwhile, preparing for the new semester in September 2021, with a range of measures expected to be in place for overseas students.
“As Indian students plan to travel back to the UK, we encourage them to connect with their universities and follow the travel rules for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as applicable”, said Barbara Wickham, Director, British Council India. Universities UK International (UUKi), an organization representing 146 UK universities, advised students holding an offer at a UK university to contact their institution to find out the latest plans for the beginning of studies in September 2021.
“Indian students planning to travel to the UK should also ensure to keep on top of the latest policies, both the UK and their home countries, regarding travel to the UK to ensure they are well prepared”, said UUKi Director Vivienne Stern.
Indian students arriving in the UK in the coming months will also be able to access COVID-19 vaccinations by registering with a local doctor when they arrive.
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