By Alice Liana Galli
Facing coronavirus can be challenging, especially if you are a foreign student away from home and you are experiencing financial difficulties. But what is the University doing to support them? According to the International Student Advice Team, a new hardship fund is about to be released.
Last night the University of the West of Scotland has officially closed its gates but the decision didn’t stop the International Student Advice Team from working – from home – to a new set of measures to support UWS international students.
Speaking the Team earlier today, they reassure that they value their students and they are doing all in their power to provide them the best possible support.
What are they focusing on? Wellbeing, Visas and Immigration, travels, and fundings.
“We’re aware that across the university sector some international students and EU students may experience financial difficulties due to the impact of coronavirus on the wider economy”- says Gillian Ashby, International Student Advice Team Leader-“In recognition of the fact they’re not eligible for statutory funding, we’re creating a dedicated hardship fund for our international and EU students who are currently living in the UK and have not returned to their home country. Any award will be made at the discretion of the University.”
But who is eligible to apply?
The applicants “must be international or EU students that are currently living in the UK and who are not be in receipt of living cost support from the Scottish or UK government” and they “must be able to evidence that they are facing immediate financial hardship as a direct result of Covid-19″.
To apply you simply have to write an email from your student email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include in the body of the email your current address and date of birth. It also should include a short paragraph, explaining:
- · How has Covid-19 directly impacted on your financial position?
- If your income from employment has been affected ( include details of your employer, the type of contract you are/were on, the earnings you were used to receiving on a weekly/monthly basis, the new earnings you now expect to receive on a weekly/monthly basis)
- How many adults and children in your household who are dependent on you?
Evidences can be also attached to the mail.
In the meantime, many of our students are trying to deal with Coronavirus emergency and adjust to the latest measures set in place by the Scottish Government to prevent the ulterior spread of Covid-19.
Would it be better to pack everything and leave with the first flight or to remain in the country to finish our studies? Would it be possible to achieve my academic goals even if I decide to go back home or are we waisting our money?
These are just some of the thoughts of the international students currently studying at UWS .
Christopher, 25, is a master’s student in Broadcast Journalism at the University of the West of Scotland based in Ayr and he chose to remain in the UK. He was worried of not being able to finish his master if he would have gone back to his country. His family invested lot of money in his education and he doesn’t want to fail them.
Christopher comes from India, where a lockdown of 21 days has been put in place, the borders have been closed and many flights departing from the UK have been cancelled. He says that remaining was the only option for him: “From the moment the pandemic started I have seen many people leaving the student accommodation to go back to their countries […] but I chose to stay and now, even I get a flight back to India I can not enter the country”.
Christopher, as well of many other international students now in the UK, decided to stay but his mind is with his family which is now facing many obstacles: “I am worried about my family. I just spoke to my mum yesterday and she said they are running out of rice […] and the electricity is off.”
However, Christopher is still calling himself “one of the lucky ones” because supported from the student accommodation staff who surprised the student with food packages: “It was such a sweet gesture on their part. I wasn’t expecting it”.
“I am grateful to the University and the Halls to letting me stay here” – He adds.
“I am grateful to the University and the Halls to letting me stay here” – Christopher, UWS international student
However, many other of our UWS International students have decided to leave Scotland and go back to their countries. This is the case of Paula, 20, a nurse student whose life changed in less than 24 hours: “While I was in Scotland, one morning my mother called me to tell me to take a flight home. At the beginning. I thought that it was all a bit of a rush, but I read the news and things were quickly getting worst there.”
“My family thought that this would be a long thing and the confinement would last for a long time so they prefer that I come back and to be home with them” – she adds- Although I was okay, I guess they were afraid to have their daughter away from home in that moment and they were afraid that if I didn’t do it quickly, they wouldn’t let me come back because many flights were already been canceled.”
“So I bought the flight for that night “- continues Paula- ” It was all very quick because in one day I had to pack everything up and of course say goodbye to my friends but at least I was able to spend time with them without any problems.”
Despite the challenges, whatever International students decide to stay or to leave, one thing is sure: UWS’s International Student Advice Team will be there to provide their students with the support they need and to help them accomplish their goals in all safety also from home.