As more and more people get vaccinated, the COVID restrictions are slowly easing up. International Students can now travel to the UK to start their Spring Semester in person. For many students, this will be the first time that they get to see their campus in person since the first semester was held online. Students of the University of Kentucky are looking forward to their offline classes and exploring the campus.
While the Coronavirus pandemic has put the world on a halt and forced many international students to go back home, students can finally resume classes on campus with the roll-out of the vaccine. Although strict guidelines will still be in place, and offline classes will only continue in phases, students are excited about the prospect of visiting their campus.
Resuming Offline Classes
While some students have already arrived on campus, a few remain in their home towns. With the new strain being more infectious, students’ return to the campus is expected to be on pause till mid-February. Students who must return to campus are those whose courses require in-person training for a better understanding. The Department for Education is working collaboratively with the Higher Education sector to prioritize the return to face-to-face teaching. However, restrictions are still in place. Wherever possible, staff are required to provide online classes and resume in-person classes only after mid-February. Keeping the health-risks that many students face, in mind, the Depart of Education guides Universities to only resume offline classes for those courses where in-person lectures are required to help enrich students. For courses where online classes suffice, in-person classes have not been made mandatory.
All COVID guidelines and protocols are to be followed. However, the Depart for Education feels that in-person teaching may be resumed with safety precautions in place.
How has traveling been possible?
The Global Wildcats initiative has allowed 20 International Students to travel to the University of Kentucky campus. The initiative was started by the UK International Centre and has helped students with their online classes, joining extracurricular activities, and has also eased their transition to offline classes. Through this initiative, new students are assigned mentors or Wildcat Ambassadors who help them adjust to their life in college, whether online or offline.
An academic advisor commented that this initiative has proven to be quite useful. It has helped students make friends and expand their horizons; all students of this initiative were engaged throughout the first semester and managed to keep their GPA above 3.57. More than half of the students were on the Dean’s list, yet, they still managed to join extracurricular activities with vigor. Hence, it is safe to say that this initiative was quite successful. Additionally, many students who were part of this intuitive has enrolled for the Spring Semester in the University, either offline or online.
According to an international student from Ghana, Princess Magor Agbozo, this initiative from the UK International Centre has successfully helped ease students’ midst. Logistics regarding their travel, stay, adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, and more were provided by Wildcats ambassadors. Students did not need to worry about figuring much of the stuff out on their own. It helped ease the minds of the students and made it much easier to travel during the pandemic.
What can students look forward to?
According to an academic advisor, this initiative has helped keep students engaged. Even from their home country, students were able to feel connected with their universities. Ambassadors and Academic advisors are looking forward to meeting these international students in-person to welcome them properly.
While online teaching was not easy to get used to, it has been a great way to help international students get acquainted with how the University functions, what the classes are like, and connect with their peers. To be held on Friday, 29th January 2021, an online event will help international students familiarise themselves with the campus and students living in their residence hall. Many events have been planned throughout the Spring Semester to ensure that International students feel at ease.
Ease of Travelling
For many students, traveling has not been as easy as they had hoped. While first-year students, who had to complete their first semester online, are excited to be on campus, there were some hurdles during the way. In many cities, the UK embassy remains closed due to COVID-19, which means students could travel to obtain their visa. Many students had to take long flights to be able to reach the campus within the stipulated deadline.
What are students excited about?
Students who can attend classes on campus are, no doubt, excited. However, having already completed their first semester online, it is not as nerve-wracking as they had thought it would be. Students have already been able to make friends and create support systems. Not only does this mean that they will feel less lonely while on campus, but it has also helped them feel more settled and aided their moving in process.
Many students are also excited at the prospect of accessing the COVID vaccine if and when it becomes available t students. Not every country has a national vaccination plan yet. Hence, many students hope that they will be able to get their vaccination in the UK itself.
Although the first day in college is ways daunting, students are excited to meet their peers. Traveling amidst a pandemic has been an exhausting task for many, but students are eager to explore their campus and experience their freshman year in college. While living away from home may be daunting for some students, they believe that their Wildcat Ambassadors can ensure that they feel comfortable while they are on campus.
Universities face several challenges due to the global pandemic, which has restricted movement and made it difficult to welcome International Students. However, with initiatives such as the Global Wildcats, it can be considered a step in the right direction. With such initiatives, international Students can feel more at ease when leaving their hometown, even amidst a global pandemic.