‘I don’t feel safe on campus’: Skeptical international students express their concerns

They’ve travelled from all over the world

Before the start of the new academic year worried international students were asked to come back to university, taking the risk of traveling away from their families during a pandemic and having to self-isolate for 14 days within the confines of their dorms.

With in-person teaching set to resume they’ve shared their experiences of how the university treated them and how they feel about resuming face-to-face classes.

The mental health of students living alone in campus halls has been deeply affected due to a lack of social contact.

We spoke to international students who say that it wasn’t right to call students back into university with no constructive precautionary measures in the first place, knowing that the return of students was likely to result in an increase of cases and isolation.

Rahul, the University of Sheffield

 “I didn’t appreciate that the university told us we had to be back mid-September. Whether it was the right decision is a bit difficult to say, but I do feel they should have offered more flexibility to international students.

“We’re paying a huge sum for fees which are never going to get reduced. It makes no sense for me to fly back home again, which is a seven to eight-hour difference. I’m just treating these times as character building and pushing myself to be more independent, and to work on lifestyle changes.”

Muskan, the University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham’s coronavirus cases are now over 1,500, the country’s highest rate. Muskan, an international student from Dubai, said that her university was too lenient with self- isolation and mask rules.

“I think it would have been the right decision if they offered proper support to all students. Initially, I was facing a lot of technical issues, and I emailed a few people, but no one really got back to me, and I had to eventually figure it out myself,” she says. 

“Placing stickers around the campus seems to be the only ‘precautionary measure’ taken so far. It does not do much to warn and remind students that social distancing rules should be observed. They made it sound like they were super strict about the virus regulations.

“At the moment, I don’t feel safe attending face-to-face classes. I stay in my accommodation most of the time. They made it sound like they were super strict about the virus regulations.” 

Shruthika, the University of Lancaster

Lancaster University has made the wearing of masks at all times compulsory to fight against the rising cases. The university has also implemented strict penalties for breaking any social distancing rules. 

Shruthika, who resides in Dubai and studies BSc Management at the University of Lancaster, requested to take all her classes online for this term because she doesn’t feel safe.

“There are so many students who still don’t understand the seriousness behind this situation and don’t follow the rules. I expected proper precautions (like masks, social distancing, etc.) to be followed and regulated more on campus. While my university has tried to accommodate these, they still have a long way to go.”

As expressed by these international students, a ten-day suspension of face to face classes does not really provide students with the reassurance that they are safe in a room of five to six students who could possibly have the virus and are simply asymptomatic.

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