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British universities are putting on private flights to help bring record numbers of Chinese students to the UK for the 2020/21 academic year.
Across the UK and Northern Ireland, Chinese students are arriving on chartered flights to take their place at British universities.
There have been various reports of students being privately flown in by some of the UK’s most prestigious institutions to support travel amidst disruption and restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, Hainan Airlines began operating direct flights from Chongqing to Manchester from 21st September. The carrier provided a transfer service to Chongqing from 27 other cities in China, including Bejing and Shanghai. It is believed that the students boarding these flights will be studying at 23 different British universities, including the University of Manchester.
It was a similar story in Northern Ireland. Irish News reported that Queen’s University Belfast chartered a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 flight from Beijing (via Doha) to Belfast, carrying 400 Chinese students. On October 3rd, a second fully-booked flight will land in Northern Ireland on the same route.
A spokesperson for Queen’s University commented: “We appreciate international travel can be difficult to arrange at the moment and want to make it as easy as possible for students to travel to Belfast for the start of the next academic year.”
Figures detailed in The Times show that over 24,000 Chinese students have applied to study at UK universities for 2020/21, an increase of 23% over the previous year. 8,570 Chinese students were accepted for a place on courses, an uplift of 14% year-on-year.
Despite travel restrictions, and changes to university services and teaching practices in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, these figures continue to show just how valued a UK education is to international students.
With overseas students – and Chinese students, in particular – increasingly making purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) their preferred property choice while studying, investment in the sector in key university cities has never been more important.
This continued demand to study and live in the UK also serves to remind investors of PBSA’s resilience to wider uncertainty.
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