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UK open to receive int'l students despite COVID-19: ambassador

Friday, July 03, 2020, 13:42 GMT+7
UK open to receive int'l students despite COVID-19: ambassador
UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward is seen in a photo supplied by the UK Embassy in Hanoi.

Editor's note: Gareth Ward is the UK ambassador to Vietnam. In this piece sent to Tuoi Tre News, he reassured international students that UK universities look forward to welcoming students from all over the world, including from Vietnam, in the 2020-21 academic year despite disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the last two years, I have had the pleasure to meet thousands of students, at undergraduate and graduate level, all across Vietnam.

I have been struck by the great energy and talent, as well as the openness to learning in an international context.

It has also become clear to me how Vietnamese people recognize the UK as a world leader in quality education.

I know from my own experience of study in the UK how international students enrich the learning environment in the UK – socially, culturally and academically.

This educational exchange helps grow life-long friendships, develop strong networks, nurture business and build political and diplomatic bridges.

In recent years, Vietnamese students have been choosing in large numbers to study in the UK, and to study for UK joint degrees in Vietnam.

This year, had COVID-19 not happened, I am sure that students in Vietnam, from 1st to 11th grade, would be enjoying their summer holidays. Most of the students would be taking a well-earned rest after finishing their exams.

The current crisis has disrupted this longstanding routine. Pupils remain hard at work, preparing for their upcoming end-of-year exams. Uncertainty hangs over plans to study abroad.

Let me reassure you that the UK is open to receive international students.

Applications for study in the UK in 2020-21 are open now and our universities look forward to welcoming students from all over the world and, including from Vietnam.

UK universities are among the best in the world, with four in the top 10 global rankings (Source: QS World University Rankings). They are leading research, including to understand and combat COVID-19.

A UK education opens doors. UK graduates are among the most desirable in the world.

Vietnamese students in the UK are seen in a supplied photo.
Vietnamese students in the UK are seen in a supplied photo.

During this particularly turbulent time, we are committed to ensuring a welcoming and safe experience for international students.

We want to ensure that each student feels comfortable when studying in the UK, maximizing their education experience.

Our recent survey of UK universities confirms that 97% will provide in-person teaching at the start of term this year, with 87% also stating that they will offer in-person social opportunities to students, including outside events and sporting activities, all in line with government and public health guidance. (Source: Study UK – British Council)

We also understand the importance of being able to get post-study work experience in the UK.

That is why international students present in the UK before April 6, 2021 will still be eligible to join the Graduate Route, even if you begin your course online before traveling to the UK in person.

This will enable students to benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK after graduation.

We want Vietnamese students to join the wider British alumni network in Vietnam, and make the UK the best place to continue your studies, visit or do business.

The UK government, working closely with universities, has gone to great lengths to ensure the utmost flexibility for those planning to study in the UK from Autumn 2020, adopting measures from visa regulations to learning models and student safety.

Following guidance from the UK government to prioritize the needs of all students in education in the UK, universities have adopted a range of tailored support services to students, including those regarding mental health.

Although admissions processes and modes of teaching might look slightly different this year, the UK’s universities continue to recruit and encourage international students to apply, even when travel is complicated.

Universities are showing great flexibility, responding to the individual needs of each student.

In the absence of being able to travel overseas, students can study remotely and need only apply for a visa when able to leave for the UK.

We have seen some fantastic and innovative examples of high-quality online learning being delivered by institutions across the UK, and the sector is already working hard to prepare learning materials for the summer and autumn terms.

Vietnamese students in the UK are seen in a supplied photo.
Vietnamese students in the UK are seen in a supplied photo.

I am also pleased to announce that the UK government’s prestigious Chevening Scholarship scheme will open for applications on September 3, 2020.

I am always delighted to meet these incredibly bright and inspiring scholars and see their contributions to Vietnam’s development.

Chevening is open to all disciplines and I encourage anyone looking to develop their leadership ability and make a positive change in Vietnam through pursuing a Master’s degree in the UK to apply.

2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of the UK-Vietnam strategic partnership, of which education is a cornerstone.

During this milestone year, I and our growing team at the British Embassy in Hanoi and the British Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, look forward to further deepening relations between our two countries, especially in education with a vision towards our mutual growth and sustainability in the post-COVID-19 world.

Gareth Ward

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