The UK government has declared that it will organize a global taskforce to help manage the challenges imposed on international travel by Covid-19. The task force will determine how to regularize safe international trips both to and fro from the UK. They will also explore various ways to boost consumer confidence and facilitate tourist and business trips worldwide.
UK Government Finally Announces a Global Taskforce
The Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will preside over the global taskforce. They will manage the task force in collaboration with government officials from different departments.
As per the government’s website, the task force will submit a report to the honorable Prime Minister by early November 2020. They will give recommendations on how the UK government can recover international travel and boost consumer confidence. They will create a testing regime for international arrivals that could be used to increase safety for international travel to and from the UK.
The UK government will also think about organizing business and tourist trips on a global and bilateral basis by using different testing and non-testing models. The officials have a huge responsibility. They have to take steps to boost consumer confidence and remove safe international travel and smooth recovery barriers. The taskforce will not supervise the current travel corridor process and all other related policies. The government website has made this point quite clear.
The government’s initiative for ensuring safe international trips is welcome news for the student communities. Somewhere down the line, the task force will open up safe and convenient travel options for them.
The task force will collaborate with stakeholders in the policy institutes and academia to get insight and practical solutions to the challenges the travel sector faces. They will also collaborate with the international partners, private testing sector, transport industry, the tourism sector, and the local business leaders.
The task force will consist of twelve government departments and organizations. Moreover, that includes the Department for Health and Social Care, Department for Transport, and NHS Test and Trace.
The taskforce’s primary function is to create an opportunity for policymakers to discuss these vital issues with people who are not part of the government. They will develop practical and sustainable proposals to organize safe international trips. One notable point in the sector is that the Department of Education is not included in it.
Nick Hillman, the Director of HEPI, is impressed with the UK government’s initiative. He feels that it is a wise move. However, he also believes that the government should take steps quickly to restore confidence in consumers. And he added another observation. He said that the Department of Education is not included in the taskforce. Considering the number of international students who arrive in the country in a year, it is essential to include the Department of Education at the table.
Northern Ireland Executive and Scottish and Welsh government officials will be part of the task force’s work. The task force will consider a four nations approach. The decisions and their implementation may vary across the countries.
The UK Government’s Move May Appease Students
International students are already quite miffed with the UK government. They have already raised their voice regarding the University tuition fees. They are questioning their reasons behind paying high tuition fees when they can get the same education from Youtube videos. Moreover, the UK government’s stance on the EU students has not yet been well-received by all. The UK government has announced that EU students will not enjoy any benefits from 2021.
The EU students will have to pay the same fees that other international students pay. They will also not get government education loans. Until 2020, EU students were eligible for government student loans. However, they will not qualify for government student loans from 2021. UK Universities assume that only fifty percent of the EU students will come to the country for higher studies next year. That will mean a loss of revenue for the country.
Experts are already suggesting that the UK government should make individual decisions to promote UK higher education to international students, especially the EU students. They should offer scholarship programs to the EU students to be enticed to study in UK Universities. Maybe the UK government’s new initiative to create a global taskforce is the first step towards that direction.
Many countries are thinking about ways to lure international students. This includes countries like the USA and Canada. The USA government is anxious about the perceived barriers that are creating a bad image of the country. Rumors are that the USA governments are facing quite a lot of challenges regarding education and COVId-19. While it is partially true, but it is equally true that the US government has overcome the major part of the challenges. It had also lifted the ban on international students where they were prohibited from staying in the country when online courses were available. The US government is taking steps to promote higher education worldwide.
The next few months are crucial. The next few months will help us understand what the UK government finally does regarding the global taskforce. International students will observe what the UK government does concerning the international travel arrangement. They do not have too much hope as of now. The UK government has failed miserably when it comes to supporting the education sector during COVID-19.
Lack of proper funds for the Universities have crippled their abilities to support international students. There were twenty thousand COVID cases in Universities, and it is not something that can be neglected. Many international students have raised their voice for lowering education fees. Students have only one thing to say. Why will students pay for something that they can watch for FREE on Youtube? Their question is justified. Will the UK government make any decision regarding this? That is something we have to see in the next few months.
The lens is on the UK government right now.