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Foreign Students: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 87707, tabled on 9 September 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking in response to the situation of students planning to undertake a year abroad but who may be prevented from doing so as such travel is not classified as essential, thereby making insurance for universities invalid.

Answered on

14 September 2020

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FDCO) do not make a judgement on whether any travel is essential. Their guidance is that: “Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision”. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/about-foreign-commonwealth-development-office-travel-advice.

Before starting a placement, students, including Erasmus+ participants, should consult with their provider to confirm details and check the living in country guide
(https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/overseas-living-in-guides) and travel advice for the country they will be visiting, being conscious that their placement may not be able to continue as originally planned. To undertake a placement, participants should seek the agreement of their home provider and their host. There may be opportunities for it to start at a later date if the situation changes and this is feasible. Participants should be ready to comply with local isolation, testing or quarantine requirements, and will need to rely on the local health system.

We expect all higher education providers to explore alternative options for mobilities and study, whether blended or fully virtual, if appropriate, and to be flexible in their approach and be conscious of the potentially rapidly changing situation on a country by country basis. They should be ready to make quick changes to projects and mobilities, consider delaying mobilities and amending start and end dates, if feasible, as restrictions may change over time. We expect all universities, colleges, schools and other organisers managing international educational mobilities, to follow the relevant FDCO travel advice for the destination country and highlight this to their participants, being aware the situation can change rapidly.

While the government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector, on its response to COVID-19, and is encouraging insurers to do all they can to support customers during this period, the position on the provision of COVID-19 insurance is that it is largely a commercial judgement for insurers. Cover for COVID-19 related cancellation is unlikely to be included in travel insurance policies bought or renewed after the pandemic was declared, e.g. in the event of the FCDO travel advice changing, as it is a known risk. This is in contrast to policies sold before the outbreak of COVID-19, which typically covered changes in FCDO advice.

Named day
Named day questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.