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Return to the UK: How Indian students are getting back to campus

return to the UK
Source: Niklas Halle'n/AFP

As India is now listed as an amber country, return to the UK has become easier for students. You no longer have to do mandatory hotel quarantine if you test negative for COVID-19, and the price for on-arrival testing just got more affordable.

If you’re starting university, though, you could consider the option of delaying your return to the UK to a more acceptable time; there are online learning concessions in place to support this.

Indian students eager to return to the UK

UK Home Office gave out 56,000 study visas to Indian students between April 2020 and March 2021, while UCAS says British universities received 30% more undergraduate applications from Indians this year. About 19% more have been accepted, compared to last year.

These figures suggest two things. One: UK universities and government are warming up more to international students post-pandemic. Two: Indian students are more determined than ever to attend university abroad.

So what will it take to return to the UK? Here’s the lowdown.

return to the UK

Source: AFP

Flying into the UK

India has resumed flights with the UK, but they remain highly limited — and therefore get pretty expensive. If you’ve been monitoring flight tickets, you are probably familiar with the high demand for Delhi-London tickets right now. One-way airfare can reach ₹4 lakh. This fare is expected to reduce as more flights are added to this route.

Here’s a protip if you’re checking for flights: according to the civil aviation ministry, you should check fares directly on the airlines’ websites. That’s because when you Google it, the search engine may exaggerate the average.

Quarantining and vaccination

Fully-vaccinated Indian students no longer have to do mandatory hotel quarantine when they return to the UK, which will save 1,750 pounds (₹1.80 lakh). At the same time, you must still self-isolate at your hostel or apartment for 10 days, just to make sure you’re free of symptoms.

Now, what about testing? You will have to pay 66 pounds (₹6,791) for mandatory COVID-19 testing upon your return to UK — a price that has recently gone down to accommodate students.

British Council India Director Barbara Wickham wrote in Hindustan Times: “Though it is wise to get vaccinated as soon as possible, the UK has not made it mandatory for people entering the country to be vaccinated. In fact, the UK has taken measures to make international student vaccination a priority.” This means you should be allowed to enter with your Covaxin or Covishield vaccines; you will still be eligible to be vaccinated under the UK National Health Service, if needed.