Dubai: The UAE’s inclusion in United Kingdom’s “travel corridor” is expected to lead to a rise in students from the UAE pursuing higher studies in Britain, a senior Dubai-based representative from IDP Education, one of the world’s largest student placement organisations, said.
Since November 14, students and other travellers from the UAE to the UK no longer have to self-isolate for two weeks upon entering the UK (with certain conditions). Self-isolation is a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put off many students from travelling overseas for university study.
Rashi Bhattacharya, country director for IDP Education, told Gulf News that the exemption from self-isolation, because of the travel corridor, would encourage students from the UAE to travel to the UK. In September, the month when most students enter university, 70 per cent of students enrolled with IDP had travelled to the UK to start their university life, Bhattacharya said. That left behind around a third of students “sitting on the fence”, pondering whether to travel or not.
‘Jumping over the fence’
“Post the announcement [of the travel corridor], the sentiment only got positive from the students’ point of view. For students who didn’t start in September, whose ratio was around 30 per cent, I think the announcement will encourage many of them to start university in the UK in the January intake, or probably even earlier because there is no longer a requirement to self-isolate as the students travel. It opens up the sentiment for students to go on campus in the UK. They would definitely take a positive look at that because the 14-day self-isolation was limiting for some people, especially if the students were travelling without an adult. So students who were sitting on the fence may now look at jumping over faster than they would have,” Bhattacharya said.
Why the UK?
The UK is one of the most popular study destinations for students from the UAE, partly because it is closer to the UAE than the United States or Canada. UK universities usually offer three-year degree programmes, compared to four years typically in North America. Moreover, the UK has traditionally been the go-to country for prestigious universities and globally-recognised degrees. The UK also recently reinstated the post-study work visa scheme, Bhattacharya said.
According to the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), 5,200 students from the UAE attended university in the UK in the 2018-2019 academic year.