Coronavirus and Students: The Need to Know for IDP Students

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Coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact on public events and gatherings of all types for all purposes. Students have been hit hard, unable to take exams, visit open days and possibly attend university on the date they expect to.

Autumn uni induction sees some 700,000 students head to over 350 universities and other higher education institutions every year, it’s a huge number of people travelling from across the UK to convene in halls of residence, classrooms and busy university buildings. Indeed, the university induction months over September and October are looking increasingly like a public health nightmare.

This is further complicated by the huge influx of international students coming into the UK to study how. International students makeup almost 20% of the student population in the UK and travel from every continent to study here.

The IDP is an organisation for students who want to study in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, UK, Ireland and Canada. It uses IELTS testing to ensure students wishing to study in an English-speaking country are proficient enough in the language.

So, what is the need to know for international students?

Coronavirus and the IDP

Firstly, if you have visited China, particularly Wuhan or Hubei province or have otherwise had close contact with people in other Coronavirus affected areas, e.g. European cities, and have developed an illness, you must try and visit a doctor before travel or wait until symptoms subside and you are well again. Coronavirus can remain infectious typically for one to two weeks after you feel well again, so do not assume you can travel as soon as you feel physically able to. If you have already arrived in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, UK, Ireland or Canada, the IDP can assist you in finding a doctor if you require advice and/or treatment.

Every country from the IDP has its own unique travel restrictions, though currently, so long as you can get a flight or otherwise travel to the country, you will not be restricted from entering it. Some countries have virtually grounded all flights, like the UK, where only 5% of flights are currently operating. If you were due to arrive in the UK over summer but believe your flight will be cancelled, do not panic. It is likely that flights will restart in some normality by June or July, though this is subject to change.

Your rights with some airlines. In Europe, you have a right to a refund if your flight has been cancelled. Under Regulation 261/2004, you are entitled to a full-value refund and then you’ll be free to rebook at your will when you are able to plan again. Many airlines are trying to give their passengers vouchers instead of refunds, but if this isn’t suitable, you can ‘enforce’ your right to a cash refund. It may take some time, though.

For those flying from outside Europe then your refund rights will vary greatly and you must check ASAP to ensure you are ready to fly when airlines start up again.

Check Country Advice

You should keep up to date with travel advice in the country in which you plan on studying. At the moment, in the UK, unnecessary travel is restricted and there are additional regulations to be aware of.  As we progress into summer, it is likely that restrictions will abate and travelling will become easier.

The following countries are part of the IDP:

United Kingdom



New Zealand


United States

Check travel advice in your host country well in advance of when you are due to fly. The WHO will also have very detailed guidelines on travel restrictions along with the precautions you should take. 

How the IDP Can Help

The IDP can help if you’re confused and need help. You may have an IDP counsellor, or your local IDP office should still have staff and counsellors there to help students. They can help you with anything from travel advice to IELTS testing.

IELTS testing

IELTS testing is a requirement for many international students wishing the study in the countries above. Currently, there are very few tests still running – check your local test centre/IDP office for information.

IELTS has set up a new online test named IELTS Indicator, which will take place on a video call with a trained examiner. It has been available to book from the 22nd of April and will be running for all students who can’t access a physical test.