Fearing Loss of Revenue, Over 50 British Universities Arrange Charter Flights to Bring Chinese Students to UK

More than 50 universities across the United Kingdom, including the Russell Group 24 institutions have chartered flights to bring Chinese students to the UK next month, fearing that international travel restrictions might cause loss of revenue.

The University of Bristol, the University of Exeter, along with Imperial College London, have already chartered four flights get around 1,200 Chinese students in the UK to start their studies, with more charter flights expected to be arranged soon in order to fulfill the demand, a report by The Sunday Times has pointed out.

“Specifically, we are part of a consortium of universities which has been granted permission to charter flights for a small number of Chinese students.We will be supporting them to quarantine upon arrival, in line with Government guidance,” a University of Bristol spokesperson said.

Based on estimates, revenues from international students are expected to reach more than one billion pounds. The report further stressed that at the Russell Group institutions, one in ten students is Chinese, contributing £1.3 billion annually. Overall, international students in the United Kingdom pay four times more than their British fellows.

Under the current restrictions, incoming students are obliged to quarantine on campus for ten days upon their arrival as the Delta variant continues to spread. It was reported that transfers from Heathrow Airport to the UK campuses, food supplies as well as accommodation have already been arranged for these students.

According to Universities UK International Director Vivienne Stern, flight availability might be a “big issue” for universities and particularly students coming from mainland China.

“Universities are also going to have to deal with students who can’t come to the UK for the start of their course. They are making provision for online learning and multiple start dates,” Stern told The Sunday Times.

At the moment, direct flights from the UK to China have been canceled, nevertheless, students in China are able to travel to London from Hong Kong as the latter is placed on the UK’s green list.

China is the top source of international students in the United Kingdom. Currently, there are 220,000 Chinese students pursuing a higher education degree at any of the UK universities or colleges.

During the 2019/20 academic year, China sent a total of 139,130 students in the United Kingdom, followed by India with 52,545 and the US with 19,940 students. On the other hand, Italy and France are the top European countries sending most students to the UK, with 13,605 and 13,430 each.

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