Free flights and accommodation: How UoL is helping students in coronavirus-affected areas

Students have been told to fly home ASAP


The University of Liverpool has told its 150 students living in Suzhou, China as part of the year abroad programme at XTJLU to return to the UK.

This comes after fears of coronavirus spreading to British universities with large populations of Chinese students, including Cambridge and Edinburgh.

UoL’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Gavin Brown sent an email to students on Monday strongly urging those currently in China to leave “as soon as practically possible.”

Credit: SWNS

Here’s a breakdown of everything the university has advised students to do, and everything they’ve promised:

Students are strongly recommended to leave or not return to China

Students currently in China were told to “return to the UK/your home country”, while students travelling in other countries were advised they “should not return to China at the end of [their] current travel plans.”

Students currently in the UK or their home country have been told to “remain there”.

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Professor Gavin Brown added: “Whilst, as we understand, there is not currently a substantial threat in Suzhou, we believe that, having taken advice from XJTLU, this is the most appropriate action.”

Students will be reimbursed for flights out of China

For students who have already booked flights home, UoL advised its insurers “have confirmed that they will assess reimbursements for a return flight to the UK (or home country)” and the university itself would reimburse students whose flights were not eligible to be covered by insurance.

The email also reminded students to “carefully plan” their travel and to “leave plenty of additional time to pass through additional health/security measures that may [be] in place” at airports.

Students will have their belongings returned to them at no extra cost

If students are not currently in China, UoL’s partner university XTJLU has agreed to return their belongings to them. Gavin Brown added: “You will not incur a cost for this, however, as you can imagine, your immediate plans take the highest priority, and so we will send information regarding this at a later date.”

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Students will not be able to complete their Chinese year abroad programmes

There is a choice for students to either suspend their studies until September 2020 or continue their studies in the Liverpool. For the latter, UoL has arranged an “exception” for students to take up a “Semester in Industry” as a replacement for their second semester in China.

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The email continued: “We will ensure that there is no financial detriment to you and you will have the option to live in student accommodation in Liverpool, should you wish to do so.

“We will also try to include Mandarin lessons as part of this option (to be confirmed), in order for you to keep up the Chinese language skills you have developed in China.”

Any students who have been affected by the cancellation of their year abroad will graduate with “Semester in China” in their degree title, rather than “Year in China”.

Student Finance will only be eligible for students continuing their studies

If students choose to continue their studies in Liverpool this semester, they will still be able to receive loans from Student Finance.

Students who suspend their studies or will be graduating after this semester will “no longer be eligible for Student Finance”.

The University added: “Student Finance may calculate that you have been overpaid.

“However, students who receive their funding from Student Finance England and who would find themselves in financial hardship due to this, can apply to Student Finance for any overpayments to be included in their normal repayments after graduation and can also apply to be exceptionally allowed to keep their finance for the remainder of the academic year.”

Students will not have to continue paying rent in China

The email advised students who are not returning to China will “not be held liable for any rent in Semester Two.”

As the rental cost of this accommodation will be raised due to the cutting short of contracts, XTJLU will be using students’ deposits to pay the remaining fees, giving any outstanding money back to students.

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One student who received the email told The Liverpool Tab: “I think the uni has handled it pretty well with how quickly the situation has come about.”

They added: “They’ve been pretty transparent with what they know and what they’ve implemented, and have made it clear that they think we should return home.

“I’m hoping that they sort something out for the rest of the year, which they’ve mentioned is a possibility.

“It’s obviously a massive shame to be missing another half-year in China, with the first term being an incredible experience, but I guess it’s for the best that we don’t risk anyone getting ill.”

If you are currently studying in China and your university has contacted you, get in touch with any information: tom@thetab.com

Featured image credit: SWNS

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