International Students Turn to Foodbanks

Friday, 31 Jul 2020

International Students Turn to Foodbanks

Hundreds of international students in the UK have no other option but to turn to food banks after losing part-time work and exhausting funding from their families overseas, many of whom in countries in the midst of their own outbreaks.

Many have been unable to pay their course fees and have subsequently been threatened with suspension from their studies which could ultimately result in cancellation of their visa. 

Up to 600 students are queuing round the block for food at a community project in east London, most studying master’s degrees and from India

Before commencing study in the UK, international students must prove they have enough money to cover course fees, rent and other living expenses. If studying a full-time degree or higher they are usually allowed to work up to 20 hours per week.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic however, most have lost their jobs and funds from families are disappearing. International students are also unable to access public funds in the UK.

The University of East London (UEL) says it is “acutely aware” that many students have been unable to cover their fee costs and has provided nearly £1m financial support since March. A statement from the university goes onto say students qualify for an “exceptional payment extension” to 15 September if they are “academically engaged” and have a good record of payments before the current crisis struck.

In addition to handing out food parcels, the Newham Community Project is negotiating on behalf of 300 students behind with their course payments.

Some universities have agreed on flexible payment plans but a student from Anglia Ruskin received an email demanding a payment of £4,100 within seven days. Failure to pay would result in expulsion with the university then required to report this to UK Visas and Immigration.

The letter from Anglia Ruskin also states, “it is expected that your visa will be cancelled, and you’ll be required to leave the UK immediately”. The university says it doing everything possible to help students and asks students to get in touch if they are in difficulty. 

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