Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates for scholars and fellows

This page has been set up to provide information for scholars and fellows with questions or concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19). It will be updated on a regular basis.

If you are an applicant, or you have been selected for a Chevening Fellowship and are due to start this soon, or you are part of the Chevening Alumni network (award years 1983 – 2018), please visit this page for information for you.

All information is accurate as of 26 March 2020.


FAQ subjects:


General

Where can I find advice on the symptoms of Coronavirus, and how to self-isolate?

  • The UK government’s guidance can be found here.
  • The symptoms of coronavirus are:
    • a high temperature
    • a new continuous cough
  • [UPDATED] If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
  • If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
  • If your symptoms are mild, do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, this is so that you don’t pass on the virus to others.
  • More advice can be found here.

What should I do if I need medical assistance?

  • It is important to note that you should not go to a GP (doctor’s) surgery, pharmacy or hospital if you have mild symptoms, in order to help protect others.
  • If your symptoms get worse or are no better after seven days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call the NHS advice line on 111.
  • Please note that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) paid the Immigration Health Surcharge on your behalf as part of your Tier 4 visa application and this allows you to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK for free. More information about the NHS can be found on our website here.
  • For a medical emergency, call 999.

What is going to happen to my course, should I attend lessons and exams?

  • Please check with your university on questions about any changes they are making in response to the coronavirus outbreak, and how those changes may impact you and your studies.
  • Please note that the UK government has now placed restrictions on non-essential movement for all UK residents. You should not attempt to travel to your university. If you have questions please contact your university by telephone or email.

[UPDATED] I want to travel out of the UK. What should I do?

  • We have suspended the 30 day travel policy due to the current situation.
  • Please see our specific information on travel and flights below.
  • Please note that the Chevening Secretariat can share published guidance but cannot make any recommendations about whether you should travel or not – this is your decision.
  • Please let your Programme Officer know if you are planning to spend any time outside the UK.

Flights

What happens to my scholarship if I decide to return home early?

  • If you decide to return home early but are completing your course remotely you will still receive your monthly stipend, even if you spend more than 30 days outside the UK. We will need you to sign an agreement confirming that you are completing your course by distance learning, in order to continue the stipend payments. For scholars studying remotely, stipends will be maintained until the original course end date, regardless of whether they are in the UK.
  • [UPDATED] More information on the agreement that scholars will be required to sign will be shared shortly.

What happens if I am unable to leave?

  • We know that many of you are unable to leave due to travel restrictions, and we know that could be worrying. Please support each other during this time.
  • You will need speak to your university about their plans for continuing with teaching and assessment.
  • The terms and conditions are unchanged for scholars remaining in the UK, and you will continue to receive your stipend.

If I want to book my own flight, can I?

  • We strongly recommend using Diversity Travel, as they have good information on travel restrictions and can help you to identify the most reliable route home. Visit their booking portal here.
  • If you are not able to book via Diversity Travel but manage to find your own flight you can book direct and claim back the cost of the flight as long as the flight meets the criteria below.
  • [UPDATED] Please note reimbursements will take a short while to process – they will not be completed until you have confirmed you have left the UK. If you are planning this approach please alert your Programme Officer as soon as possible. Please also update your Programme Officer when you reach your destination.

[NEW] Can I travel to a neighbouring country because my home country has closed its airports?

  • We can only allow flights to a different country from your own if you are a resident there and intend on staying there.
  • With the current climate, we do not advise anyone to travel to a country that is not their country of citizenship or residence in case borders close while you are travelling.
  • If you wish to book a flight to a third country, you will do so at your own risk, and the Secretariat would not be able to assist if you encounter problems in travelling on to your home country.

[NEW] Support

What support is available from the Secretariat?

  • Your Programme Officer is available to you Monday – Friday during office hours (09:00-17:00 BST) by email or telephone. Please contact them with any queries not answered within our emails or these FAQs.
  • The welfare and immigration team is also available to you Monday – Friday during office hours (09:00-17:00 BST) by email at welfare@chevening.org.

I am feeling very anxious about this situation. Can the Secretariat help me?

We understand that the current global situation is causing a lot of uncertainty, stress and anxiety, and that being away from family, friends and support networks is really challenging.

During this time, it’s important to look after ourselves and each other. Where possible, keep connected to friends and family via phone, Skype, WhatsApp and any other virtual means available to you. You can also contact the welfare and immigration team at welfare@chevening.org. Where available, make use of your university’s facilities, and speak to them about your worries.

Online help

There are also lots of online resources available to help and support you if you feel you need it:

Mental Health Foundation: Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Mind: Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Mind, the UK charity for improving mental health, have produced a definitive guide to help you cope with this potentially stressful and anxious time. The guide provides lots of advice on preparing your home for long stays indoors, lots of practical tips for looking after your wellbeing being and mental health and also a check-list of the things you might want to have ready for staying at home.

NHS: Mental wellbeing while staying at home

NHS: Mental wellbeing audio guides

These excellent NHS audio guides include some very useful practical tips and guidance on dealing with issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Student Minds: Coronavirus resources

Samaritans

If you feel you are in crisis then you can contact the Samaritans by calling free by calling 116 123. There are other ways of contacting the Samaritans via their website.


Your studies

[NEW] My university is switching to online teaching, what should I do?

Please speak to your university and department for more information about their plans to moving teaching and assessments online. If you are unsure about any of the information you have been given, please contact your Programme Officer as they may be able to contact the university on your behalf. However, the university is best placed to assist you regarding your studies so please contact them first.


Accommodation

[NEW] I have been told by my university I should leave their accommodation, what should I do?

Please speak to the university accommodation office and ask their advice. Please also let your Programme Officer know as soon as possible, and keep them updated.


Immigration

[NEW] I have a Tier 4 visa, will this be affected by the current pandemic?

  • We suggest that you speak to your university about this as they are the sponsors of your Tier 4 visa and should be able to provide you with further guidance.
  • Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) shows when your visa is valid from and to – please speak to your Programme Officer if you’re unsure.

Other

I have a question not covered by the above FAQs, what should I do?

If there is anything that you do not feel we have covered in our emails, the website or in these FAQ’s, please contact your Programme Officer.

[UPDATED] What’s happening with Chevening events?

  • There are no planned Chevening events taking place in the upcoming weeks. If you were booked to attend an event you should have received a cancellation email. Please email engage@chevening.org if you did not receive a cancellation email.
  • We will review the events due to take place in the future and will be in touch with attendees directly if future planned events need to be cancelled or postponed.