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The basics
THE UK: Before you leave - Must read

COVID-19 guidance when studying in the UK

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s become crucially important for international students to stay up to date with the latest government guidance. We take you through what to look for when studying in the UK.

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Studying abroad has always required research and preparation. However, since the advent of Covid-19, this has become critical. Governments are constantly updating policies, procedures and guidelines. The UK government has recently announced important changes to Covid-19 rules and regulations that will affect you as an international student. Don’t worry, we have you covered with the latest information and updates on studying in the UK. 


What restrictions apply to returning international students?


International students with a Tier-4 student visa travelling to the UK to study are subject to border restrictions and associated quarantine and testing requirements. Restrictions apply differently according to your country of origin, with a traffic light system in operation. 


The traffic light system evaluates the level of risk, and countries are divided into three categories:


  • Green (low-risk)
  • Amber (moderate-risk)
  • Red (high-risk)


What are the requirements for the different traffic light categories?


As an international student travelling to the UK you will need to comply with the following requirements:


Coronavirus travel guidance UK


*PCR testing takes place on or before day two with additional PCR testing for amber and red list countries taking place on day eight. Managed quarantine lasts for 10 days. 


What happens if you travel through a red list country during transit?


If you have travelled through a red-list country on the way to the UK as an international student with a Tier-4 student visa, you must quarantine in a government-managed facility for 10 days. This applies to any travel through a red list country in the 10 days before arrival in the UK. 


The ‘Test to Release’ scheme, which allows you to leave quarantine early if you have a negative PCR test result, does not apply in the case of travel through or from a red list country. Managed quarantine needs to be booked 14 days before travelling, and you should always check with your university before departure. 


What about travel and transit through an amber list country?


If you have travelled through an amber list country on your way to the UK, you will need to quarantine for 10 days. Quarantine should be in the accommodation you have organised or accommodation provided by your university. You must travel directly to your accommodation once you have arrived and fill in a traveller locator form. 


International students travelling from or through amber list countries will also need to give evidence of a negative test taken within 72 hours of departure to the UK. You will need to book a travel test package so that you can provide test results on day two and day eight of your quarantine. The ‘Test to Release’ scheme is available after five days of isolation after a test taken with a private provider, and this test is negative. 


Who covers the cost of quarantine and testing?


The cost of quarantining and testing is for your account. The cost of quarantine at a government facility is GBP 1,750, while a travel test package will cost around GBP 200. However, some universities have adopted policies where international students will be either partially or fully reimbursed for the costs incurred when travelling to the UK for study. 


Royal Holloway, University of London has announced they will cover up to GBP 1,500 of quarantine costs and GBP 150 for tests. Cardiff University is covering the total costs of quarantine and testing for students. In Scotland, the University of Glasgow has agreed to cover the bill for testing and hotel quarantine for students from red list countries. Oxford Brookes University is doing the same for all new students starting in September. 


It’s always a good idea to check on your university’s policy. 


What about visa concessions?


The UK government has made concessions for international students to study remotely without a student visa. International students with a Tier-4 student visa can continue to study online until April 6 2022 without any visa changes. The intention is to give students more flexibility around travelling to the UK. 


Visa concessions have been extended for international students allowing you to access the UK graduate route. If your degree course spanned the 2020/2021 academic year and you qualify for a student visa you can enter the country before 27 September 2021 to meet the requirements of the graduate route application. If you start a course lasting 12 months or less from September 2021, you need to present in the UK by April 6 2022 to meet the graduate route criteria. 


Can I get a Covid-19 vaccination?


As an international student, you will receive a Covid-19 vaccination for free. This applies regardless of your nationality and the country you have travelled from. If you have already received one dose of a vaccine before arriving in the UK, then all attempts will be made to give you a second dose of the same vaccine in the UK. 


It is recommended that you register with a local GP when you arrive so that you can book in for a vaccine appointment. 


What will happen when I arrive on campus?


Government guidance to all higher education providers in the UK is to create the safest and most secure environment for students and staff. You will need to follow the procedures and regulations outlined by your university. These may include but is not limited to regular asymptomatic lateral flow testing, social distancing, cleaning protocols, self-isolation and online learning when necessary. 


What guidance is changing in the UK from July 19th?


From July 19th 2022 the UK government has announced that certain lockdown rules and restrictions are to be lifted. What does this mean? It depends on where you’re studying:



  • No limits on the number of people who can meet
  • Social distancing rules relaxed (except in certain circumstances such as hospitals and border control).
  • Face coverings are no longer a legal requirement but are encouraged, especially in crowded settings and on public transport.
  • Sports events, concerts and events can take place
  • Restaurants, bars and cinemas fully opened 
  • University facilities and campuses fully opened
  • Meeting outdoors is encouraged



  • Eight people from four different households can meet 
  • 15 people from 15 households can meet outdoors 
  • Limited event size of a maximum of 2,000 outdoors and 400 indoors 
  • Details to be provided at pubs and restaurants and masks to be worn
  • Social distancing remains
  • Masks remain 
  • Working from home and university campuses will have limited access until August 9th



  • Up to six people can meet indoors 
  • Indoor events of up to 1,000 seated and 200 standing can take place
  • No limits on outdoor meetings
  • Face masks remain (except in some indoor settings such as pubs and restaurants)
  • Rules and regulations to be evaluated on August 7th 2021


You are strongly encouraged to check the UK government websites regularly for updates and information on Covid-19 policy. Further, always stay in close contact with your university and ensure that you have taken the necessary steps before travelling. 


You can download and use a copy of all of the key UK government resources and advice:



Study in the UK


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