UK COVID Vaccine Programme Hoped to Draw More Int’l Students As Universities Vow to Create Safe Campuses



As many countries have rolled out aggressive vaccination policies for their citizens, the COVID-19 vaccine is poised to help facilitate the return of international students aiming to start or resume in-person studies.

Press Release

(August 2021)  According to a recent study by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the UK is becoming more attractive as a destination for prospective students as a result of how they have handled the distribution of the vaccine, with 11 percent of respondents highlighting its effectiveness. 


Vaccine Passports: A Welcome Move?

In another poll by QS dated August 2021 among 3,853 prospective international students, 84 percent of respondents said they would receive the vaccination if offered to them. Most students surveyed (70 percent) also felt that vaccinations should be a requirement before students travel to the country of their chosen institution. 

International higher education experts say the success of the UK vaccine programme has meant that all adults over 18, including international students, are eligible to be vaccinated in the UK. According to Yvonne Simpson, Assistant Secretary, External Liaison and Student Services at Queen Margaret University, UK, the country is well advanced in the supply of vaccinations to a significant percentage of the adult population. “It is extremely welcome and positive that this is extended to all international students choosing to study in the UK.

Challenges for the Non-Vaccinated 

It is not currently a requirement that an international student is vaccinated in order to study in the UK, although students are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated before they arrive. Students arriving in the UK are subject to current testing and quarantine rules. There are fewer restrictions for those arriving from amber list countries who are fully vaccinated with a recognised vaccine. 

“‘There are currently different requirements for testing and self-isolation for students arriving to the UK from amber list countries depending on whether the student has been fully vaccinated with a recognised vaccine. The regulations around this are complex and prone to sudden change,” says Simpson, who is also a member of the new UK and Europe Advisory Board at international education platform M Square Media (MSM), bringing together a wealth of experience in higher education and international student recruitment to advise the business and its partner institutions and agents in the industry. 


Mandatory Vaccines for Foreign Students?

Another important question is whether vaccines be made mandatory for students coming to the UK, particularly amid concerns of new virus variants. Universities, however, likely believe that forcing students to prove their vaccination status to attend lectures or live on campus would be effectively unworkable. “We are working closely with our NHS partners to set up a drop-in vaccination clinic on campus at the start of semester which students can access. We are also arranging easy access to testing on campus. That way we work to make the campus as safe as possible for everyone,” explains Simpson.