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Meet the Charity Helping International Students Left Homeless By COVID-19

Educating Beyond Borders helps stranded students in UK COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected students around the world, with classes moved online and university buildings closed.

For the time being, the vast majority of university students remain indoors, staring at the same four walls every day while trying to continue their studies as best they can.

That is, if you’re able to return home. The reality for many international university students in the UK (and elsewhere in the world) is they are in fact stranded in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, with their university accommodation contracts expiring and no easy way to travel back home.

This is where student-run initiative Educating Beyond Borders comes in. The organization is passionate about education and believes all students have the right to get the best education anywhere in the world.

The NGO is run entirely by volunteers, with a small, yet competent team pitching in from locations across the globe. EBB aims to assist university students during and after their studies. That’s why EBB has taken a strong stance in assisting students currently stuck in the UK due to the effects of the coronavirus.

EBB is in direct contact with students online and offline and is also conducting an ongoing listening exercise asking students what help they need to get through COVID-19.

The charity organization says it has been inundated with calls and messages from students stranded in the UK.

Rox from Educating Beyond Borders said: “We now know there are 60,000 cases of stranded or at risk students nationwide since the start of lockdown. These are reported cases.

“An average of 121,000 students travel to the UK to study each year. So, we are working on the basis there are 60,000-100,000 stranded students in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland."

The charity reports that 400 students contacted them for help with accommodation across just one recent 48-hour period.

“We are now feeding 1,000 students across London. We are receiving a new help request at the rate of one every five minutes and we now have help requests from all four nations in the UK.”

EBB has mentioned how many students are currently at risk because of social distancing measures, with many struggling to pay their rent as they are unable to work. And with tenancy agreements coming to the end in the next few months, this is an added worry for students who are stranded in the UK with dwindling funds.

University campuses are the homes of international students during term time, EBB said: “Students report they need to return to the UK to continue their studies from Sept 2020 whether courses are online or not. They need housing.”

Ryan from EBB said: “We appreciate UK universities say they are mindful of the plight of students who have nowhere else to go.

“But the main issue for students contacting us is dwindling food, worries how to get food and worries about accommodation contracts ending from the beginning of this month.

“Students who have left the country are also struggling because until now, British universities aren’t responding to their needs if, through no fault of their own, they don't have access to reliable internet to attend the mandatory, daily online classes.”

Mandy Sanghera, international human rights activist said: “It’s important we don’t ignore vulnerable international students who have been hit hard by the current COVID-19 pandemic. I have real concerns that private-funded schools haven’t done more to safeguard under-18s.

“It’s great to see Educating Beyond Borders raising awareness and supporting international students. My question is what are the universities doing? How can landlords end tenancies? What government support is out there?

“Students who had part time jobs have lost their income overnight. What provisions are out there for them? We have to be clear about protecting the most vulnerable, especially young people who have no real networks out there.”

If any students are currently stranded and are looking for help, Educating Beyond Borders can be contacted via email at [email protected] and through its website.

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Written by Niamh Ollerton
Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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