Coronavirus

All information is accurate as of 29 November 2021. Please read the sections relevant to your circumstances.

FAQs relevant to all Scholars
FAQs for Scholars studying in the UK
FAQs for Scholars studying remotely in their home country

Information relevant to all Scholars

 

What do I do if I have an urgent query?
Email your Programme Officer and welfare@cscuk.org.uk and someone will get back to you. Please only use this address for immediate concerns as we deal with a high volume of urgent enquiries.

What is the situation for people living in the UK? What is the government advice on Coronavirus?
From 19 July, England moved to Step 4 of the roadmap which means that most legal restrictions have been lifted. However, the government has advised that everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious. Please see the government guidance for full details on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

There are separate rules in place in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. You should check the restrictions for the area you live in or are planning to live in.

Please be aware of the guidance available on GOV.UK for the higher education sector regarding new and returning student travelling from overseas. Please also note the updates made to the Office for Students Student Q&A which contains information that might be relevant to some of you.

Will I be able to get a Covid-19 vaccination in the UK?
On 18 June 2021, NHS England published COVID-19 vaccination FAQs: students in Higher Education Institutions, including a section for international students from page 2.

Please note, this FAQ applies to England only. The vaccination programme is managed by devolved governments in the rest of the UK and you should refer to the latest government information in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

What should I do if I am struggling or if I want to connect with other Scholars?
Your university is here to support you and every institution has wellbeing services with a range of resources to help you. If you are unsure about which services your university offers, have a look on their website or put the name of your university into this online tool designed to help you identify what support services are available. You should also speak to your Programme Officer if you have any concerns.

The CSC has been hosting virtual weekly drop-in sessions for Scholars to get together and chat informally to each other and to CSC staff. This session is open to all Scholars, at any stage of their studies and at any institution. It is an opportunity for you to meet new people and talk about anything on your mind. The sessions will continue throughout December 2021 and we will be alternating between Thursday and Friday each week to provide more opportunities for Scholars to get involved. Drop-in sessions are taking place on the following dates:

  • Friday 3 December from 15:00-16:00 (BST)
  • Thursday 9 December from 15:00-16:00 (BST)
  • Friday 17 December from 15:00-16:00 (BST)

We also encourage you to get in touch with your Regional Network Coordinator for regional support, networking opportunities and information on any upcoming virtual events. Please join the regional Facebook Groups to connect with the RNCs and fellow Scholars in the same region using the links below.

South West Regional Network group
South East Regional Network group
North East Regional Network group
North West Regional Network group
Oxford Regional Network group
Scotland Regional Network group
Midlands Regional Network group
Wales & Northern Ireland Regional Network group

What should I do if I need further welfare support?
Many people will be feeling worried, this is perfectly normal. It is important however that if you are feeling this way, you acknowledge it and take steps to look after your mental health.

Information for Scholars studying in the UK

 

Where can I find advice on the symptoms of Coronavirus, and how to self-isolate?
The UK Government’s guidance on Coronavirus is located here.
The National Health Service (NHS) guidance, including on symptoms is here. You can use the 111 online coronavirus service to check your symptoms.

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for Coronavirus, you will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days. You will need to self-isolate if:

If you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, you should stay at home and self-isolate. If you are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years and 6 months you are not required to self-isolate if you are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

You could be fined if you do not self-isolate following a notification by NHS Test and Trace. You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to stay at home and self-isolate or you are the parent or guardian of a child who has been told to self-isolate.

You can read more about how long to self-isolate on the NHS website.

What should I do if I need medical assistance?
It is important to note that you should not go to a GP (doctor’s) surgery, pharmacy or hospital if you have mild symptoms, in order to help protect others.

If your symptoms get worse, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call the NHS advice line by dialling 111 from any UK telephone.

Please note that the CSC paid the Immigration Health Surcharge for all Scholars on Tier 4 and Student visas and this allows you to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK for free.

For a medical emergency, telephone 999.

If you should be diagnosed with the Coronavirus, or be required to self-isolate please inform the Commission as soon as you are able to do so by emailing your Programme Officer.

What if I am a disabled Scholar or have underlying health concerns?
We have added specific advice for Scholars that have particular needs. Please see our guidance here.

I am unable to work due to university/lab closures – what should I do?
Please get in contact with your Programme Officer and let them know.

What should I do if I’m a research student (PhD or Split-Site)?
Research students should ensure that they follow the advice of their universities and of their supervisors. If you are currently unable to work due to any changes that your university is making, please contact your Programme Officer.

What is current advice on travel to and from the UK?
You should follow the current Covid-19 rules where you live: EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

To the UK:

All those arriving to England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are required to follow the travel rules set by the UK government.

Please make sure that you are up to date with this current guidance as the CSC will not be able to meet the costs of fines if Scholars do not comply with the regulations.

This FAQ applies to England only. Please refer to the relevant sections of the government guidance for information about arriving to ScotlandWales, and Northern Ireland.

From Friday 26 November a number Commonwealth countries have been added to the Red list. Please check the Red list to see if the country you are travelling from is on the list. The rules for travel from countries and territories not on the red list will depend on your vaccination status.

Red list

If you are travelling to England from a country on the or you have transited through one in the past 10 days, you must:

For travel from all countries not on the Red list:

If you are travelling to England from a country not on the Red list there are separate requirements depending on your Covid-19 vaccination status. The UK government has strict regulations as to what qualifies as fully vaccinated. It is your responsibility to check the government guidance and determine whether you qualify and to follow the relevant requirements accordingly.

If you are travelling to England from a country not on the Red list and you do not qualify as fully vaccinated you must:

  • Take a Coronavirus (Covid-19) test and get a negative result in the 2 days before you travel.
  • Book and pay for a travel test package, which will include Covid-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of your quarantine.
  • Complete a passenger locator form with details of where you will home quarantine when you arrive and the travel test package booking reference number
  • After you arrive in England you must:
    • Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days.
    • Take a COVID-19 PCR test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8.

If you are travelling to England from a country not on the Red list and you qualify as fully vaccinated you must:

  • Be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body that includes, as a minimum:
    • Forename and surname(s)
    • Date of birth
    • Vaccine brand and manufacturer
    • Date of vaccination for every dose
    • Country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer

If your document from a public health body does not include all of these, you must follow the non-vaccinated rules. If not, you may be denied boarding.

If you are fully vaccinated in the USA, you will also need to prove that you are a resident of the USA.

  • Take a Coronavirus (Covid-19) test and get a negative result in the 2 days before you travel.
  • Book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 PCR test – to be taken after arrival in England.
  • Complete a passenger locator form with details of where you will home quarantine when you arrive and the travel test package booking reference number.
  • After you arrive in England you must:
    • Take a COVID-19 PCR test on or before day 2.
    • You must self-isolate in your home or the place you are staying until you receive your test result.
    • If your PCR test results are delayed, you must self-isolate until your test result is known or until day 14 after arrival, whichever is sooner.

Travel from the UK:

Please note that in cases of sudden changes in conditions, a country can be moved to the Red list without warning.

If you are planning on travelling from the UK, you should note that the government advises not to travel to countries on the Red list in order to protect public health in the UK and the vaccine roll-out.

All Scholars are asked to keep their Programme Officer updated of their whereabouts and travel plans at all times. The CSC is unable to meet costs associated with Covid-19 tests and quarantine hotels for scholars who are currently in the UK and planning on travelling

What if I am due to go home?
Scholars are permitted to return home at the end of their award. We are processing departure forms for Scholars that have reached the end of their award and are due to go home. If you have not yet submitted your departure form, please do this and send to csc.secretariat@cscuk.org.uk as soon as possible, so it can be processed.

You should be aware that many countries are operating mandatory quarantine arrangements upon return and many also require Covid-19 test results before you board your flight. You should check your own Government website for details of the arrangements they have in place.

The CSC is not able to cover Covid-19 test and quarantine costs, please budget accordingly. If you have any concerns about compulsory Covid-19 testing or quarantine requirements or costs, please contact welfare@cscuk.org.uk.

If you have completed your studies before your award end date, your award will end upon your return home or the date you have completed, whichever is earlier. Please speak to your Programme Officer if you would like to depart before your award end date. You will need to request written confirmation from your university that you will have completed all elements of your course before your desired travel date. You will also need to confirm in writing that you understand that your stipend will be paid up until the date that your leave the UK and that you have considered any financial implications of returning early, for example, your UK accommodation contract.

What if I want to return home early and complete the rest of my studies virtually from my home country?
Scholars are advised not to travel unless strictly necessary in order to reduce the further spread of the virus. However, we understand that the situation is particularly difficult for some people. Your wellbeing is very important to us, and for that reason, we are introducing more flexibility for Scholars experiencing difficulties, for example with their mental health, and who wish to travel home before the end of their award.

If you are on a one-year award or in the final year of your award and wish to return to your home country to complete your scholarship virtually, and you meet the conditions detailed below, we will continue to support you with a locally adjusted stipend.  You will not be able to return to the UK at a later date and therefore you should:

  • Consider whether it is essential that you return home and take into account the risks of Covid-19 both to yourself and others. Please confirm to your Programme Officer the reasons that you wish to return home.
  • Ensure that you will be able to complete the remainder of your course online, and provide the Commission with written approval from your university to leave the UK and that will not need to return e.g. to sit exams in person.
  • Consider any financial implications of receiving an adjusted stipend once you have returned home (for example, your UK accommodation contract). The CSC is not able to adjust the timing of any stipend payments and cannot assist in covering any accommodation costs.
  • For departing 2020 Master’s Scholars, it is unlikely that the CSC will approve for you return home early to complete your course online if you request to depart less than 2 months before your award end date.
  • Sign a remote learning agreement, which your Programme Officer will provide, confirming that you will continue to study remotely and receive a local stipend.

If you feel that it is essential that you return home, please get in touch with your Programme Officer to discuss this further before taking any action.

For Scholars on one-year awards or in their final year of award who wish to complete from home, the Commission will:

  • Cover the costs of your flight home. This means we will not be able to pay for you to return to the UK once restrictions are lifted.
  • Adjust your stipend to reflect the living costs in your home country. Your stipend will change to be paid at a ‘local’ rate in most cases from the date that you leave the UK.

Those on Shared Scholarships, who receive stipend from your university, will need to seek approval from the University Scholarships team (i.e. the team which pays your stipend) to return home early in addition to their Course Tutor. You will need approval that a homeward flight can be provided by the University (which the CSC will reimburse), and that stipend can continue to be paid once you are at home.

We recognise that it will not be possible for PhD Scholars in the first or second year of their Scholarship to complete their award from home and we therefore cannot provide you with your homeward airfare now, but you are advised to contact your Programme Officer if you have any welfare concerns and we will continue to support you including discussing options for you to return home for an agreed period at your own cost as lockdown restrictions permit.

What if I want to return home at the end of my award but my government has closed its border?
In the first instance please make sure that this applies to citizens of the country as well as visitors as a special provision may be being made for citizens. If it does you will need to remain in the UK until restrictions are lifted. Please also get in touch with your Programme Officer and they will be able to check if there are flights operating to your home country. If your university has advised that they will be providing teaching and/or research facilities, then your scholarship will remain in place under its existing conditions. You must continue to follow all university and government advice on the Coronavirus.

What do I do if I am in the UK and my visa has expired or will expire soon?
The Home Office has updated the immigration guidance for people affected by Coronavirus. If you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a visa that expires by 30 September 2021, you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’. You should read the information on the UKCISA website carefully and contact your university for advice if this applies to you. You should also email the Senior Welfare and Immigration Officer at welfare@cscuk.org.uk

Do I need a Covid-19 test to travel home and who will pay for this?
Some airlines and countries require you to have a negative Covid-19 test certificate before you board your flight. Diversity Travel will advise you if this is a requirement in your case. Government advice is that if you need to take a Covid-19 test to facilitate travelling to another country, you should not use the NHS testing service. Instead, you should arrange to take a private test. The CSC is unable to make any specific recommendations on private testing facilities, but your university may be able to advise on options in your area. You should make sure that you research all options so that you are able to get a certificate in good time. Scholars are expected to pay for the cost of their test themselves but if you are no longer in receipt of stipend and are experiencing financial hardship, please contact welfare@cscuk.org.uk.

What if I want to take a flight to go on a mid-term visit?
Due to travel restrictions and government advice to not travel to red list countries, the CSC is not currently able to approve flights for Scholars to go on mid-term visits to countries on the red list.

Please contact your Programme Officer if you wish to go on a mid-term visit to a country not on the red list.

What if I want to take a flight to go on fieldwork?
Government advice is that travel is permitted where it is reasonably necessary for education or work purposes, subject to the rules in the destination country. As going on fieldwork is a valid reason for travel, the CSC will consider your request.

If you are a PhD Scholar and you have planned fieldwork, please discuss your plans with your supervisor to get permission from your university to travel and confirmation that a risk assessment has been undertaken to ensure the fieldwork can be undertaken safely.

If you have planned fieldwork but do not wish to go on fieldwork during this period, please make sure you discuss any changes to your plans with your supervisor to ensure that you are able to continue studying.

What if I am at home or on fieldwork and want to return to the UK?
Scholars intending to return to the UK from fieldwork should discuss their return with their supervisor and university. The CSC will require confirmation that travel to the university is permitted and you will be able to access the facilities that you need. Please contact your Programme Officer to discuss this further.

What if I need to travel for compassionate reasons?
If you are required to travel for compassionate reasons, the CSC will continue to consider your request. You can find further details on the CSC Compassionate Policy. If this applies to you, please contact your Programme Officer to discuss your request. Urgent requests over weekends should be made directly to Diversity by calling 0161 300 8258.

What should I do if I am having problems with my accommodation?
This will depend on the type of accommodation that you have. There is general information on the UKCISA website but if you are still struggling after reading this please contact your university. Depending on the situation they may be able to offer you further advice.

What should I do if I am experiencing financial hardship?
If you are experiencing financial hardship due to Coronavirus and because you are no longer in receipt of stipend, please read the information on the UKCISA website and contact your university as a first point of action. Following this, if you feel that the support being provided does not suffice, then please do contact your CSC Programme Officer. If you have any urgent welfare concerns, please contact the welfare@cscuk.org.uk email address.

What if I need an extension to my programme?
We recognise that Scholars have experienced delays with their research due to problems accessing labs and equipment as well as with fieldwork during the Covid-19 outbreak. Wherever possible Scholars should find alternative aspects of their PhD to work on if not able to undertake the planned work. We appreciate that Scholars may have needed to make adjustments to their PhD plans in light of disruption caused by Covid-19 and Scholars should work with their supervisor to do this; please ensure that you keep your Programme Officer updated of significant changes.

The CSC will consider exceptional extension requests from pre-2020 Scholars in their final year within six months of the end of their awards. Please read the CSC’s Policy on Covid-19 related exceptional extensions for PhD Scholars and contact your Programme Officer to find out how to put in an exceptional extension request at the appropriate time. Before submitting an exceptional extension request, you may also wish to refer to the CSC’s Ill Health Policy.

Where disruption due to Covid-19 has occurred within the first or second year of a PhD award, the Commission hopes that wherever possible the Scholar, with support from their supervisor, will endeavour to make up at least some of the time lost and will work with their supervisor to adjust their research plan in order to minimise the length of any extension needed. We acknowledge that this will not be possible in all cases and ask that Scholars keep their Programme Officer updated if there is any time lost so that this can be recorded in case an exceptional extension should be requested in the future in line with this policy.

The CSC may be able to consider requests for exceptional extensions from 2020 Split-site Scholars where unforeseen circumstances directly related to Covid-19 arose after the award was confirmed. In these cases, scholars must immediately inform their Programme Officer of the delay. Please read the CSC’s Policy on Covid-19 related exceptional extensions for Split-Site Scholars and contact your Programme Officer to find out how to apply for an exceptional extension.

I would like to remain in the UK for longer. Will I be permitted to remain in the UK until the end of my visa or under the new Graduate Route opening in July 2021?
We hope that Scholars currently in the UK will be able to make the most of their time on award, particularly as restrictions start to ease. However, it will not be possible to remain in the UK beyond the end of your award. Commonwealth Scholarships aim to equip scholars to contribute to the development of their home countries and it is central to the aims of the scholarship that Scholars return home at the end of their studies. All Scholars agree to the terms and conditions of their award, including that they are expected to return home within one month of the end of their award and these terms and conditions remain unchanged.

Information for Scholars studying remotely

 

I am a 2020 Scholar and I started my studies remotely from my home country. When will I be able to come to the UK?
The UK government has announced that in-person teaching and learning at universities can resume for all remaining students from 17 May.

If you are currently studying remotely from your home country, you should make arrangements for travel to the UK to continue your studies at your host university as soon as possible, after reviewing the following guidance. Do contact your Programme Officer with any questions you may have. We do not know how and when travel restrictions and restrictions within the UK may change over the coming months, so we cannot advise if it will be possible for you to travel to the UK at a future date. We therefore advise that you discuss your options carefully with your host institution to ensure that you are in the best position to be able to continue with your studies in the longer term. If you are permitted to travel to the UK but opt not to, we cannot guarantee that it will be possible to do so at a future date.

The CSC is only able to book flights for Scholars to come to the UK where we have the approval from the host university. You should not travel to the UK except where given permission to do so; the Commission will not reimburse the cost of any flight not booked by us.

If your home country is currently on or subsequently added to the Red list travel ban, the CSC will assist in the arrangement and cover the cost of the required hotel quarantine.

Please speak with your host university and supervisor to confirm:

  • When they advise that you travel to the university.
  • When you intend to arrive on campus so that you can be appropriately supported and will have access to the necessary facilities.

Once you have agreement from your university, please contact your Programme Officer with your request to travel providing the following confirmation from your university:

  • That you are currently permitted to travel to the university.
  • That you will be able to access the facilities you need for your studies.
  • That you will be provided with assistance in arranging accommodation in which you can self-isolate for 10 days on arrival (if required).
  • Please also provide details of your visa type and vignette expiry date.

My 90-day vignette has expired or is expiring soon, what shall I do?
You can find information on how to apply for a replacement vignette on the UKCISA website. As there is a cost and process that you need to follow in order to do this, it is advisable to only make this application once it is certain that you will be able to travel within the validity of the new vignette. Therefore, please wait until you have approval to travel before you proceed but do have a look at the information so you are aware of the steps that you will need to take. The CSC will reimburse the cost of a replacement 90-day vignette for Scholars who have permission to travel.

I have approval to travel to the UK for the first time. Will I need to self-isolate when I enter the UK and will I need a certificate to confirm that I do not have Covid-19?
All those arriving to England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are required to follow the travel rules set by the UK government.

Please make sure that you are up to date with this current guidance as the CSC will not be able to meet the costs of fines if Scholars do not comply with the regulations.

This FAQ applies to England only. Please refer to the relevant sections of the government guidance for information about arriving to ScotlandWales, and Northern Ireland.

The CSC will reimburse the cost of required pre-travel Covid-19 tests and travel test packages (if applicable) on submission of a receipt and claim form after arrival in the UK for all Scholars travelling to the UK for the first time.

Red list

If you are travelling to England from a country on the or you have transited through one in the past 10 days, you must:

For travel from all countries not on the Red list:

If you are travelling to England from a country not on the Red list there are separate requirements depending on your Covid-19 vaccination status. The UK government has strict regulations as to what qualifies as fully vaccinated. It is your responsibility to check the government guidance and determine whether you qualify and to follow the relevant requirements accordingly.

If you are travelling to England from a country not on the Red list and you do not qualify as fully vaccinated you must:

  • Take a Coronavirus (Covid-19) test and get a negative result in the 2 days before you travel.
  • Book and pay for a travel test package, which will include Covid-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of your quarantine.
  • Complete a passenger locator form with details of where you will home quarantine when you arrive and the travel test package booking reference number
  • After you arrive in England you must:
    • Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days.
    • Take a COVID-19 PCR test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8.

If you are travelling to England from a country not on the Red list and you qualify as fully vaccinated you must:

  • Be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body that includes, as a minimum:
    • Forename and surname(s)
    • Date of birth
    • Vaccine brand and manufacturer
    • Date of vaccination for every dose
    • Country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer

If your document from a public health body does not include all of these, you must follow the non-vaccinated rules. If not, you may be denied boarding.

If you are fully vaccinated in the USA, you will also need to prove that you are a resident of the USA.

  • Take a Coronavirus (Covid-19) test and get a negative result in the 2 days before you travel.
  • Book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 PCR test – to be taken after arrival in England.
  • Complete a passenger locator form with details of where you will home quarantine when you arrive and the travel test package booking reference number.
  • After you arrive in England you must:
    • Take a COVID-19 PCR test on or before day 2.

What if I am travelling from a ‘Red list’ country?

If you are travelling to England from a country on the or you have transited through one in the past 10 days, you must:

What can I expect from the way my course is delivered once I arrive to the UK?
Many universities are offering courses by blended leaning during the 2021-22 academic year. Scholars are expected to be in the UK as soon as they are able to travel but the course is likely to be a mix of face-to-face tutorials in small groups and lectures to be delivered online.

I don’t have access to the IT equipment and/or internet in order to be able to undertake studies from home.
You should speak to your university in the first instance to explore whether they are able to offer any support, and then to your Programme Officer.

Will I still be able to find accommodation if I am coming to the UK at a later date?
You will still be able to find accommodation but please be mindful that this may not be on campus. We advise you to speak directly to the university about this.

Will I be able to start later or get an extension to my programme if I experience delays due to studying virtually?
We are asking your university for an estimate of the capacity to which you should be able to undertake your studies as normal. We are aware that this will also depend on you having good connectivity in your home country. It will not necessarily be possible to ask for an extension at a later stage, depending on the type of award you are on and when you started your award.

If you experience any delays to your studies after you have started your award, you should report this to your university and your Programme Officer as soon as possible so that we can advise you in relation to your particular case.

If you are a 2021 Scholar and you have permission to study remotely for a short period until your visa is issued and you are able to travel to the UK, no additional time will be added to your award for any period of remote study.