UK universities on wellness drive for Indian students in Covid-19 crisis
Leading universities across the UK have reached out to their Indian alumni, whether still in the UK or at home in India, to get in touch with their university support services if they need help during the coronavirus lockdown.
Even as the Indian government’s Vande Bharat Mission enters the second phase of repatriation of stranded Indian students in the UK, many still face a long wait before they can either fly home or they are able to resume their classes.
Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK international, which represents 143 UK university leaders, said: “We are aware that many Indian students are concerned about money and accommodation, are missing their families and are understandably distressed to be far from home during this global pandemic. My message to those students is: please, please speak to your university.
“We may not be able to fix everything, but there are people on hand who will do everything they can to make things easier for you. Universities are providing support in the form of funding, food, accommodation and advice and guidance. We are in this together, please don’t struggle alone,”
Universities UK said that support offered by universities includes delivering food to students, providing hardship funds for students in financial difficulty, waiving accommodation fees or moving international students into accommodation where they can look after them by providing cleaning, security and catering. Pastoral and mental health support is also a key aspect of the wellness drive being set up for students who find themselves stranded in the crisis.
The wellness and other support services being offered by some universities to their Indian and other international students:
University of Bath
The University of Bath has moved all students in university-owned accommodation around the city into campus accommodation. They have tried to ensure that all students have en-suite bathrooms in case they need to self-isolate. Social distancing has been set up in the library for those who wish to work outside their rooms. The university is providing three free meals a day to all students who remain on campus.
For those students who require access to counselling and student welfare services, Bath’s student services team continue to operate a 24/7 service.
The university has enhanced the availability of financial assistance to students who find themselves in hardship. Significant additional donations to hardship funds have come from alumni and also the Santander Bank, who have redirected some unspent annual bursary funds towards meeting hardship requests from Bath students.
Glasgow Caledonian, Scotland
Glasgow Caledonian University have implemented a dedicated helpline for students, which operates seven days a week.
They have introduced a fund to support students through the Covid-19 crisis, have refunded all student residents’ rent for April and May and are offering free accommodation to students should they need it at this time.
All student services are now available online, to ensure all students can access them.
Solent University, Southampton
Solent University hardship funding is still available for any student who is struggling financially. The university is also providing vouchers for students in hardship to use to buy food.
University staff are offering visa advice and general support to any students on short-term visas who are stuck in the UK. This includes finding university accommodation a group of students who had to leave their private rented accommodation at short notice.
University of Bangor, Wales
The International Centre are supporting international students stuck in the UK to access hardship funding. The student housing office are supporting students living in private rented accommodation to negotiate payment plans with their landlords where they are unable to pay rent.
Any students who live in university accommodation and find themselves self-isolating, due to symptoms or for shielding purposes, can order food and toiletries online which is delivered to their flat door by the university team. Students who are self-isolating are contacted each day by phone to check on their welfare.
by Aditi Khanna