As strict travel restrictions and lockdown measures were imposed across several countries following the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of students from around the world are stranded at universities across the UK.
Many international students are left behind on deserted campuses, as they couldn’t get any flights back to their home countries. While some countries have chartered flights for students to return home, other students have not had such an opportunity.
“In these times of uncertainty, all you wish for is to be with the ones you love”
Mehdi Jai, international exchange student
Mehdi Jai, 21, an exchange student from Morocco at Nottingham Trent University is stuck in the UK as he could not go back to Morocco before the country closed its borders on 15th March.
“Currently, the priority is to keep the lockdown and protect the people, so there’s no way to go back. But still, the government will try to bring back the people that are abroad, but no one knows when that will be possible.”, he said.
Mehdi moved to Nottingham in September 2019 and would have moved back to his country in June, at the end of his exchange program. “In the worst-case scenario, I’ll have to stay here all summer and wait another year to start my next academic session. Best-case scenario, I will be able to go back mid- June with the help of the government. Let’s hope it’s that one.”
He admitted to feeling homesick sometimes as “in these times of uncertainty all you wish for is to be with the ones you love.”
Mehdi on not being able to go home
Anuja Dongre, 26, a MArch student at the University of Exeter, is another student who couldn’t go back to her country before India imposed travel restrictions on 20th March.
“I think around 100 students along with their parents have created a WhatsApp group and are trying to charter a flight to India from the UK. But with the travel ban in India, I don’t think that’s gonna be possible anymore.”
“Considering the situation, I don’t wish to go back anymore. I think traveling would be very risky for myself as well as the people back home.”, she added.
Still, Anuja “feels very weird, specifically because I do not have any human interaction. All my flatmates have left and there is no one around that I can talk to.”
“I think my people back home are more affected by the fact that I am living all alone now.”, she said.
The Minister of State for Universities has issued a message for all international students affected by Covid-19 which can be found here. Similarly, guidance for those affected by changes to UK immigration and borders can be found at www.gov.uk.