International students in the UK lacked support during pandemic, researchers say

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Researchers have launched a project aimed at better supporting international students after evidence emerged that they fared poorly in the UK amid the global pandemic.

Students from abroad are being surveyed about their experience in the UK after Covid-19 closed borders and wreaked havoc in education.

Preliminary results suggested there has been limited and patchy support from institutions, with only some proving mental health and financial support.or advice on visas.

“Students living in private housing were harassed by landlords but institutions offered little or no solutions,” the researchers said.

The project is being carried by The Open University and The UK Council for International Student Affairs.

“Students have expressed concerns about the poor quality of online, distance education, the portability of such education into further educational endeavours and the high costs which they continued to incur even though much of the benefits of university life had been removed,” the researchers wrote.

“The content of lessons and assessment changes were met with dismay by students and the lack of clarity about timelines was also a matter of deep concern. Research in (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) has, in particular, been slow or has stopped.

“Financial issues have been a particular concern as students struggle to access part-time jobs, have increased expenditure due to extensions of study and are faced with difficulties in accessing this extra money from home countries that are facing recession,” they added.

Dr Gunjan Sondhi, a lecturer in geography at The Open University, said three per cent of respondents so far come from the Middle East and North Africa region.

The researchers said that Covid-19 had exposed how dependent universities in the UK are on the income from international students.

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Updated: September 3, 2020 10:20 PM

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