What financial assistance is available to international students?

COVID-19 UPDATE: What financial assistance is available to international students

This article was published by the Great British Mag team on 3 February 2021.

If you are one of the many thousands of students facing financial hardship due to Covid-19, then read this article to find out what help, financial assistance and support is available and how you can access it.

Apply for a student hardship grant

On 2 February 2021, the UK government announced it was making a further £50m available to universities to help alleviate financial hardship bought about by the pandemic. 

The announcement comes behind the Welsh government earmarking £40m for vulnerable students in January, along with Scotland bringing out a £30m fund in the same month. Northern Ireland began providing Covid-19 financial support for students back in May 2020.

The government has said that the funds should be used to help students who have lost their jobs and are having to cover the cost of accommodation they are not using, as well as to support those who are finding it hard to access online learning. Importantly though, the government is giving universities the autonomy to make decisions on how to use the money locally.

If you are a full-time student, contact your International Student Support team, Student Welfare team or Students Union who will be able to help you access financial help and support from the student hardship funds. Check out your university’s website and social media channels to find out who you can email or call.

Get free food from food banks

If you have run out of money and are in immediate need of assistance, you can contact a food bank in your local area that will be able to provide you with food and possibly toiletries and other household items. The food you will get will include staples such as pasta, teabags, fruit and vegetables and is completely free of charge, although the food bank may ask you to complete some paperwork.

Charities that run food banks can be found across the UK. To find your nearest food bank go onto the Trussell Trust website.

Contact your country’s embassy in the UK

Contact your country’s embassy or consulate in the UK to find out what help and support they can give you. For example, the High Commission of India is offering emergency accommodation for Indian students stranded in London and the National Indian Students and Alumni Union, in partnership with other organisations, is providing free food for students in Bradford and Milton Keynes.

For more information, email info@sevatrustuk.org or call 0741 7478274.

Contact local and national charities 

Charities across the UK are mobilising to meet the challenge posed by the national crises and help those most in need. One charity especially for international students is called Friends International.

It is a Christian charity that welcomes students of all faiths and no faith. They have 40 centres around the UK that can give you a hand accessing help in the local area, such as putting you in touch with charities that can provide you with free food parcels.

The majority of the 40 centres have social media channels and a website through which you can get in touch. 

Contact places of worship

Whilst all places of worship are closed, they are providing assistance to their local communities including arranging emergency food parcels.

If you follow a religion then get in touch with your local place of worship by phone, email or social media. If you don’t follow any religion, then be assured that you can still get help by reaching out to the local places of worship. Do this by calling, emailing, completing online forms and contacting them via social media.

Contact your Students’ Union

Reach out to your Students’ Union, particularly to the international student officer, if such a role exists at your university.

You can also reach out to student societies, such as the Erasmus Network, which is coordinating assistance for European students, or the international society representing your country.

They may not necessarily be able to assist you financially, but they will be able to help you seek assistance and support you through the process.

You may also want to read

Financial assistance to help you pay your rent

Can I get a rebate on my student fees?

Will international students get the Covid-19 vaccination for free?