Coronavirus: updated information for the UK ELT industry
17 February 2020


Coronavirus: updated information for the UK ELT industry

International student travel is one of the sectors which is affected by the current outbreak of novel coronavirus, now officially named Covid-19.

Students can refer to UKCISA's updated information for international students on Covid-19.

Education providers can refer to the British Council notes and advice on the outbreak of Covid-19 as well as UKCISA's updated information for Higher Education Institutions, which will be useful to ELT centres and English UK members. Universities UK also has up to date information on Covid-19 for universities.

At English UK we believe members, agents, homestay hosts and students all have a role in limiting the spread of the virus while allowing study travel to continue safely. 

Here is our latest Covid-19 information including links to government and public health advice.

What is the risk for visitors coming to study in the UK?

A small number of people in the UK have tested positive for Covid-19, mostly connected to one adult who caught it at a conference in Singapore. The UK government and local public health authorities have advised that the current risk to the UK population is low to moderate.

What's the official UK government advice?

UK Chief Medical Officers say anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath should stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

Anyone who has travelled from Wuhan or Hubei Province to the UK in the last 14 days should follow UK government advice.

You can find further advice on the virus from Public Health England.

What can ELT centres do?

  • Ensure all new students understand the symptoms of Covid-19 and what to do if they feel unwell NHS information on Covid-19
  • Remind all students about the importance of routine hygiene measures. These include regular, thorough handwashing. Everyone should use tissues for coughs and sneezes and then put them into the bin, and cough into elbows if necessary. It is important not to touch eyes with hands that might not be clean.
  • Have a risk assessment and plan for what to do if a student presents with symptoms, including the equipment for a first-aider to take temperatures.
  • Understand exactly where your students have been during the previous two weeks before they travel to the UK.
  • Support homestay hosts with the latest public health information about the virus. 
  • Display posters and information in your centre.
  • Maintain goodwill with agents from China and other affected countries to ensure that good working relationships continue in future.

Printable resources

What if a student needs to self-isolate for 14 days?

The UK government and the NHS has issued detailed guidance for people who need to isolate and those looking after them. 

How can homestay hosts support students?

Harsha Shivdasani of Hosts International, which places students in around 10,000 UK and Irish homes, says a number of their homestay families have agreed to keep students who were self-isolating after travel.

"We are trying to work closely with schools on this and to understand hosts' concerns and fears. It's also important to make sure everyone has the latest official advice and information, and that students know what to do if they feel ill. We've found it useful to ask that students sign a declaration before travelling that as far as they know they are not at risk of infection, and also to get a medical certificate."

What should students do if they are unable to return to China?

There are Chinese students in the UK who will be unable to return home due to travel restrictions.

UKVI have confirmed that Chinese nationals will be given an automatic extension to 31 March 2020 if they have a visa with an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020, provided they have have been compliant with the conditions of the visa prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

Chinese nationals do not need to do anything to get this extension: the new expiry date (31 March 2020) will be added to UK Visa Immigration's systems. They will be subject to the same immigration conditions as their last visa during the extension period.

Read full guidance from UKVI about student visa extensions.

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