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March 20, 2020

What is the situation for PG students at UK universities as a result of Covid-19?

The situation for postgraduate students (and in fact all students) is rather unsettled at the moment due to the ongoing worldwide health crisis caused by Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

Since being declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation, schools have been closing in parts of Europe in an attempt to control the spread of the virus, and today the UK followed suit closing all schools until further notice. So what does this mean for postgraduate university students?

If you are a postgraduate student studying in the UK or planning on studying in the UK in the autumn 2020 the situation is currently the topic of much debate. It is obviously an evolving situation and Universities UK – the organisation that represents 137 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – is working with the UK Government and local public health authorities to distribute appropriate guidance to UK universities.

Obviously there are some international postgraduate students that are already studying at UK universities and are living on campus, potentially unable to go home. Plus there are the postgraduate students hoping to attend a UK university in the next academic year that also need to be kept abreast of the situation. So what is going to happen?

Following the UK government’s announcement on Wednesday 18 March that all UK schools were to close by the end of the week for the foreseeable future in an attempt to control the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK, the Chief Executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, had the following to say, “We are facing unprecedented challenges as a country, and universities continue to respond in the best interests of their students, staff and their local communities. The health and wellbeing of all students and staff is the number one priority and a range of measures are being taken to keep university communities well-informed, supported and safe.”

Mr Jarvis continued, “The government understands that universities must continue some essential services and cannot fully be locked down given students living on many campuses and some areas of research that cannot be left unmonitored. Universities are particularly mindful of international students who are separated from friends and family and may be unable to travel because of the pandemic. Universities will continue to do all they can to support those remaining on campuses and keep them safe, and are regularly communicating with students and staff to provide them with timely and accurate information.”

In conclusion, he said, “We are committed to working closely with the government, UCAS, examination regulators and school leaders on the practical implications of this and hope there will be clarity on this for students, parents, teachers and university admissions staff as soon as possible.”

We will keep you updated when there is more clarity on the situation for postgraduate students in the UK, both present and future.

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Content added on 20th March 2020. 

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