UK Medical Students Who Paid to Volunteer Abroad but Were Unable to Travel Due to Lockdown Lose Their Money

Medical Students in the United Kingdom have lost thousands of pounds they paid for international training placement, which did not take place due to the halt of international travel amid COVID-19.

Students paid to volunteer in hospitals across Asia, Africa, and South America but were not able to travel there as international travel ceased during 2020. However, those who were not able to rebook are claiming that they have lost £2,000 in some cases, reports.

According to the Work the World award-winning organization that provides healthcare students with placement abroad and organizes about 2,000 trips a year, only a small number of students did not receive the refunds.

The third-year student nurse at Birmingham City University, Flora Slorach, said that she was planning to have the trip of her life when together with her two friends decided to volunteer at a hospital located in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

After she and her two friends paid the amount of £2,040 for the experience, which was expected to take place in August 2020, they were not allowed to travel due to restrictions imposed by the government.

“When I contacted Work the World, they said I could either cancel the placement and receive no refund or rebook the trip for next year,” she told BBC.

She further claims that after deciding to rebook for August 2021, students decided to apply for compensation as there were low chances to be able to travel again, but Work the World told her they had already spent students’ money and were not able to return them.

“It’s not really about losing the money now, it’s the injustice of being treated badly and without care, and I don’t want other students to suffer what we have,” she said.

Similar to Flora Slorach, Charlotte Hickman, a medical graduate from Edinburgh University, pointed out that she had lost £1,500 after her volunteering trip to Merida, Mexico, ended earlier than expected last March.

“[The company] claimed it wasn’t canceling the trip, but we weren’t allowed into the hospital, and our accommodation was to close,” she said, claiming that the company also told her that this was a temporary issue and that she would be allowed to complete placement during the next year.

The main competition regulator in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), states that money should be returned in most cases if contracts cannot proceed due to lockdown rules.

This is not the only case when students have lost their money amid the pandemic. Thousands of international students across the United Kingdom recently signed a petition asking the government for a recompensation of tuition fees.

Due to Coronavirus restrictions, university students in the country have spent nearly £1bn to pay for unused accommodation, the National Student Accommodation Survey by Save the Student has estimated earlier.

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