Coronavirus is currently impacting the world as we know it. We are asked to remain indoors and only go outside for limited and necessary purposes to protect health services and save lives. The Covid-19 pandemic has effectively changed the way we work, study, and socialize. We know many international students had to leave Winchester unexpectedly and return to their home countries earlier than planned. On the other hand, many international students have had to stay in Winchester due to being unable to travel home. You might be the only one left in your house or flat, and so it is understandable that you may be feeling isolated, lonely, confused or anxious.
Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing. Feelings of worry or helplessness may be even more prevalent among international students who may be far away from their families. The #WeAreTogether campaign brings together students, and staff from UK Universities and Students Unions to share messages of solidarity, support and gratitude. The campaign is particularly aimed at providing reassurance and support for international students. It is so important to stay connected and keep in touch with loved ones at this time.
We hope that by addressing some frequently asked questions, this will also help to provide some reassurance:
If all classes are moved online and attendance cannot be registered, are students at risk of losing their Tier 4 visa? (Information taken from )
Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the government has stated that they to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or to students who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances.
How can I look after myself?
There are a variety of things you can do indoors, which will help you to look after your mental wellbeing - things like watching movies, reading, writing, creating art, exercising, or cooking and baking. Other ideas can be found in Renée’s post on .
In addition, talking about your worries, managing your information intake, and only reading what is necessary can be a great help. Up to date advice for international students during the Covid-19 outbreak including visas and travel information can be found on .
If a student or staff visa is about to expire but they are unable to travel home due to travel restrictions, what guidance is available for them? (Information taken from )
On 24 March, the UK government released . They have stated that visas shall be extended to 31 May 2020 if an individual cannot leave because of travel restrictions or self-isolation. The government is now requesting that individuals contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to detail their situation.
You can email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre on or call 0800 678 1767 free of charge (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
What can I do if I experience harassment during the outbreak?
Hate and discrimination is never acceptable. If you, or someone you know, has been a victim of any kind of hate crime, you can report this to the Police or seek advice and support from the Student Union Advice Centre or Student Life Advice.
Further information for UK International Students can be found by visiting .
If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, or need academic, housing or money advice, you can get in touch with our friendly Student Union Advisor by visiting www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/advice
(With thanks to Domenik for contributions to this blog post)