A significant number of students from India have managed to travel to the United Kingdom despite COVID-19 restrictions to take up courses across universities and are adjusting to the blended learning approach of a mix of online and in-person teaching, according to an analysis of the first few weeks of the new academic term.
Universities UK, which represents 139 universities across Britain, said the latest data and insights from universities indicate that a higher number of international students have been placed at UK universities than was initially expected.
As the 2020-21 autumn term got underway this month, they collated reports of universities putting in place a range of dedicated support measures for students flying in from overseas, including India.
According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, India is largely responsible for driving up Britain’s overseas student arrivals, who account for great financial gains for the UK universities with fees nearly three times that paid by domestic students.
The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU-UK) said it is in the process of conducting a wide-ranging review into the experiences of Indian students and found that close to 40 per cent of students are satisfied with the blended learning approach.
A near equal number of students, however, seem unsatisfied and hope that the teaching process will be improved as further adjustments are made.
There have also been concerns for student well-being as several campuses reported coronavirus outbreaks, resulting in Universities UK’s new checklist of measures for universities to ensure access to basics during enforced quarantines.
Among some of the specific measures in place, the University of Salford has set up an international “buddy project” to support international students through self-isolation and Cardiff University and the University of Bristol said it is offering packs for students in self-isolation, which includes bedding and food.
The British Council in India said it has been interacting with thousands of Indian students planning to study in the UK over the last six months to understand concerns on health and safety, travel and modes of study.
“Many universities are geared to deliver some in-person teaching this autumn term, and will blend face to face learning with online technology and tools to support students’ education. This will be regularly reviewed in line with current and local guidance to ensure that teaching is delivered effectively in a safe environment,” said Barbara Wickham, Director India, British Council.