Students Try To Flee UK By Chartered Plane For ‘safer’ China

According to universities, a multitude of international students are looking to return home due to safety concerns regarding COVID-19. The deserted campuses, which are operating under skeletal services, have left many international students alone and universities have been calling students to reassure them they are not alone. The universities have reported that Chinese students, who make up a third of non-European international students in the UK, have been among the most eager to return home. This is due to Chinese parents being alarmed by the UK government’s initial message about "herd immunity" and believing that the government lockdown has come too late. 70 Chinese students from multiple universities attempted to collectively charter a plane home from London to Guangzhou, but new flight restrictions enforced by China have made this impossible. The cost of one of the few remaining seats typically exceeds £2000, and many students have had to take multiple connecting flights through Africa to reach their home. Cardiff University will be providing 2,600 bedrooms to the NHS for free and will not charge current students living in dorms any rent if they cannot return next term.

According to Prof Steve West, UWE’s vice-chancellor, the university will offer students the option to relocate to other blocks if they are isolated due to empty dormitories. The purpose of this is to keep an eye on students and avoid social isolation. In a video message, Prof West urged students to be kind to each other during these challenging times, recognizing the emotional challenges that students will face in the coming months amidst the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Dominique Thompson, a former GP at the University of Bristol for 20 years, is concerned about the challenges that students face when confined to their small rooms with only a single bed, desk, and chair. She fears that the virus will heighten levels of anxiety among young people, especially those far from home. Thompson’s advice to students is to continue with their routines, including exercise, and to connect with others. She also suggests that they begin planning their future travels as a source of inspiration.

Christopher Tucker, the director of residence life at Edinburgh University, has compiled a list of students who may require additional mental health support, and his team will call them twice a week. Students are encouraged to inform the team if they are concerned about their flatmates’ well-being. Since visual cues are absent over Skype, Tucker’s team must be vigilant in listening for signs of distress.

On the other hand, universities are also dealing with students who may not understand the importance of maintaining physical distance. Prof West emphasized that young people must realize that they can spread the virus even if they feel fine and that their actions could have severe consequences. Universities are working to educate students and encourage behaviors that will save lives.


  • owengriffiths

    Owen Griffiths is 35 years old and a blogger and teacher. He has written about education for over 10 years and has a passion for helping others learn.