Food banks come to the rescue of foreign students in the UK during lockdown


FILE PHOTO: Indian students and members of the Indian community queue for free food parcels at a local restaurant prepared by the Malayalee Association of the United Kingdom in the London borough of Newham on May 08, 2020 in London, England.  (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Indian students and members of the Indian community queue for free food parcels at a local restaurant prepared by the Malayalee Association of the United Kingdom in the London borough of Newham on May 08, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

FOOD BANKS in the UK have come to the rescue of international students after part-time work and funding from families dried up during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Some students are facing suspension by their universities over non-payment of fees, reported BBC.

At Newham community project in east London, volunteers are feeding up to 600 students, most in their early 20s. Besides, it has been negotiating on behalf of about 300 students who are behind with their fees at 18 universities.

“We came to know about the issue when about 50 students came into a local mosque asking for food,” said project organiser Elyas Ismail.

Before the pandemic they provided food for about 30 needy households each week but now support 20 times more.

According to Home Office guidance, students pursuing degree level or higher education at a UK university are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week.

Hyderabad-native Rahemunnisa Shaik , who studies MBA at the University of East London (UEL), said that she is going through a ‘very difficult time’.

She arrived in the UK last September with her husband and in May this year gave birth to a baby girl. Shaik now owes £1,500 to the university which she needs to pay by mid-September.

The university says that it has provided nearly £1 million in support since March for some students who are unable to cover their costs.

To get an extension till mid-September students must meet certain conditions, a statement from the university said.

According to the report in BBC, six major universities have agreed flexible payment plans, most to December, but some universities are asking for immediate payment.

Lexiao Guan, from Chengdu in China, was asked by the Royal College of Art  to pay outstanding fees of £7,100 immediately. Later, the college agreed to extend the deadline and reinstate all the students affected, although they are withholding final degree results until the fees are paid.