Universities in Wales are looking into using charter planes to bring thousands of international students from China, reported WalesOnline.
With the pandemic affecting commercial flights, charter planes can offer these students some respite from the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
According to the report, Swansea University said it has joined with a group of universities, including Cardiff, Cardiff Met, the University of South Wales, Bristol, the University of the West of England, Exeter and Plymouth to fly the students to Cardiff or Bristol airports.
Aberystwyth University also confirmed it is looking at chartering flights and arranging travel from airports to its campus.
Mark Garratt, interim director of marketing, recruitment and international at Swansea University, told WalesOnline that the plan is still in the early stages but that Cardiff Airport is the most likely destination, with students expected to pay for the flights.
“International students are massively important. They are telling us they want to come if they can get here,” he was quoted saying.
He added that the universities have joined together as a group to assess how many international students they can get to come to them in the autumn, with estimates ranging at tens of thousands of students potentially, including thousands to Welsh institutions.
“We are investigating going through a broker to put charter planes on from China most specifically,” said Garratt, adding that they are also potentially talking to Chinese airline Hainan.
“We are in early discussions with Cardiff Airport and Bristol Airport. We are keen on many levels to get flights to Cardiff.”
Countries look into charter planes
— Study International (@Study_INTNL) August 5, 2020
Universities around the world are reeling from the loss of international student fee income, forcing them to look into offering charter flights for students.
It was previously reported that UK universities were in discussion about arranging flights from countries such as China and India so international students can avoid potential complications from disrupted travel schedules.
New Zealand had also mulled using charter planes to safely bring international students to the country, but the idea has since been shelved. International students are not expected to return to New Zealand until next year.
International students are a big source of income for many universities. Their fees sometimes cost more than double than domestic students.
International students at Swansea University, for example, pay almost double the fees of domestic students at 15,900 pounds for a full-time BSc (Hons) programme.
At Bangor University, undergraduate courses can cost up to 16,500 pounds per year for international students enrolling in the September 2020 intake, compared to 9,000 pounds for local and EU students.
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