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Important Notes about UK School Closures & Travel Arrangement

Important Notes about UK School Closures & Travel Arrangement back to Hong Kong

In view of the latest developments of the Coronavirus outbreak, the UK Government announced in the evening on Wednesday 18th March (UK Time) that schools (including primary, secondary schools and colleges) across the country would be closed from Friday 20th March, until further notice. Public exams in the UK (GCSE & A-levels), which were scheduled in May and June, will also be cancelled. Students affected by school closures should follow the instructions of their schools and arrange to return to Hong Kong.

Type Boarding School, Further Education & Sixth Form College, University
Target All International Students in the UK

UK School Closures & Travel Arrangement back to Hong Kong

In view of the latest developments of the Coronavirus outbreak, the UK Government announced in the evening on Wednesday 18th March (UK Time) that schools (including primary, secondary schools and colleges) across the country would be closed from Friday 20th March, until further notice.

Following the announcement, most schools have swiftly informed students and parents on their arrangements for school closure and operation of the boarding houses. From our understanding, some schools are able to keep their boarding houses open until all students leave to go home. If schools are to close their boarding houses early, students will be arranged through guardianship companies to stay with a host family. To students affected by school closures, we suggest them to follow the instructions of their schools and arrange to return to Hong Kong.

It is expected that schools will be closed for an extended period of time, and it’s very likely that students will not be able to return to the UK after Easter holiday. Students are recommended to pack a bit more of their personal belongings when they come back to Hong Kong.

We also agree with the advice from schools and guardianship companies that students should avoid flights with multiple transfers whenever it is possible, so that they will not be spending a long period of time in unfamiliar airports. As the number of flights from the UK to Hong Kong has been gradually increasing, it is hoped that the current ticket shortage will ease very soon.

We understand that the decision of closing boarding houses and suspending classes is unexpected and the situation is fast-changing. Everyone in the BU team is now working hard to provide the best assistance to parents and students in overcoming the difficulties!

Public exams in the UK (GCSE and A-levels), which were scheduled in May and June, will be cancelled. The authorities will announce subsequent arrangements regarding the cancellation. 【Click to see the latest announcement】 Meanwhile, Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) has reopened registration for sitting GCSE and A-levels exams in Hong Kong until Tuesday 31st March. We have preliminary confirmation that it’s feasible for students to sit these exams in Hong Kong. However, they must be aware that the change in examination boards does mean that there will be considerable differences in syllabuses. If students wish to apply for GCSE and A-levels in Hong Kong, please reach HKEAA to enrol. 【These are now cancelled. Click to see the latest updates】

Now our top priority is to make sure that proper arrangements are made for students to come home safely. We would deal with concerns over school fees and class arrangement after Easter holiday, after urgent issues are solved.

While our Education Consultants and Student Support Officers have been helping students with various matters amid the Coronavirus outbreak, our senior management has been communicating with both British and Hong Kong authorities (e.g. British Consulate General Hong Kong, The Boarding Schools’ Association, British Boarding Schools Network, HKEAA and HKSAR Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, etc) to express parents and students’ concerns, as well as providing opinions as a professional agent.

Emergency Number

We understand that the situation is fast-changing and arrangements vary from school to school. If you do not find answers to your questions in our guidelines, please contact our Education Consultants and Student Support Officers during office hours at 34269976.

We have also activated our emergency number 62520176 for urgent enquiries outside office hours. To assure parents with urgent problems can get the assistance they need, please only call us if your issues are urgent.

FAQs

We have gathered a list of frequently asked questions, to help students and parents quickly understand the current situation:

  • When does UK school closures begin?

    The UK Government announced in the evening on Wednesday 18th March (UK Time) that schools (including primary, secondary schools and colleges) across the country would be closed from Friday 20th March, until further notice.

    Public exams in the UK (GCSE & A-levels), which were scheduled in May and June, will also be cancelled. The authorities will announce subsequent arrangements regarding the cancellation.

  • 【Updated on 23/3】What arrangement are there following the cancellation of GCSE and A-levels?

    Following the cancellation of GCSE and A-levels exams, the Department for Education announced on Friday 20th March that students will be given “calculated grades”, to enable them to move on to the next stage of education after the summer.

    Ofqual and exam boards will work together to develop a process for the purpose. Drawing on past experiences of awarding calculated grades (for example, for students who fall ill immediately before an exam), the process will likely take into consideration a range of evidence and factors, such as:

    • Non-exam assessment
    • Mock exams results
    • Teachers’ assessment (instead of simply using predicted grades)
    • Distribution of grades in past exams

    Currently the target is to provide these “calculated grades” to students before the end of July. If students do not feel that their “calculated grades” reflect their ability, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam in the next exam session.

  • 【Updated on 8/4】Will exam fees be refunded after the cancellation of GCSE and A-levels?

    According to latest information released by exam boards and the schools, it’s unlikely that exam fees will be fully refunded. Although the actual exams are cancelled, exam boards are now working on the “Calculated Grades” to be awarded to candidates. As to make sure that these “Calculated Grades” are fair and reflect students’ abilities, this process includes collecting student reports from schools, and a series of rigorous statistic and reviewing procedures. As for a partial refund, it’s likely that we will have to wait for further updates when these processes are completed.
  • 【Updated on 24/3】Will the International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams be cancelled too?

    The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) announced on Monday 23rd March that IB exams, which were scheduled to start in May, would also be cancelled in all countries. Students will be awarded their IB diplomas and grades in July as planned (grading mechanism will be announced very soon), to enable them to move on to the next stage of education after the summer. The IBO will provide further details to IB schools by Friday 27th March, so that students can be informed accordingly.
  • Should students return to Hong Kong?

    As the UK Government has announced school closures and public exams (GCSE & A-levels) cancellation, we suggest affected students to follow the instructions of their schools and arrange to return to Hong Kong.

    Following the announcement, most schools have swiftly informed students and parents on their arrangements for school closure and operation of the boarding houses. From our understanding, some schools are able to keep their boarding houses open until all students leave to go home. If schools are to close their boarding houses, students will be arranged through guardianship companies to stay with a host family.

    It is expected that schools will be closed for an extended period of time, and it’s very likely that students will not be able to return to the UK after Easter holiday. Students are recommended to pack a bit more of their personal belongings when they come back to Hong Kong.

  • Does class suspension affect universities as well?

    Universities are currently not affected by the school closures announced by the UK Government. Any corresponding arrangements are decisions made by universities based on their own judgement.

    From our understanding, some facilities in campuses are shut while halls of residence remain open. Most universities are already delivering classes through online platforms, and making plans for assessments and exams to be conducted online. Degrees that involves placements and professional qualifications are believed to keep a certain extent of face-to-face classes and exams.

    Attention! Some faculties and programmes may require students to attend online teaching in the UK, but procedures are always in place to take into account difficult circumstances faced by individual students. To avoid any disruption on academic progression and your student visa, students should secure consent from universities before returning to Hong Kong.

  • How to check the number of Coronavirus confirmed cases in the school’s area?

    Parents can check the number of confirmed cases in the area near your son’s and daughter’s school on this BBC website (Click here) by entering the postcode of the school.

    To retrieve the postcode, please go to the school profile on our website, via our school network listing for Boarding Schools and Universities.

  • 【Updated on 25/3】Can students take public exams (GCSE & A-levels) in Hong Kong?

    Exam board Cambridge International and Pearson Edexcel announced on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th March respectively that their GCSE and A-levels exams in centres outside the UK (including Hong Kong) will also be cancelled – meaning that it’s no longer possible to sit these exams in Hong Kong this summer. Students who have registered with HKEAA to sit these exams in Hong Kong should stay tuned to further announcements made by HKEAA.
  • Will student visa be affected if students are not able to go back to the UK after returning to Hong Kong?

    Owing to the Coronavirus outbreak, the UK Governments promised special arrangements on visa rules and regulations. With the approval of their schools, student visas will not be affected if students leave the UK for more than 60 days, or fail to meet the usual requirements on class attendance.
  • Is refund possible for school fees of the last term (April to July) in this academic year?

    We know that currently schools are focused on making plans to make sure learning can continue amid the Coronavirus outbreak – these include plans for online teaching, and arrangements during and after the Easter holiday. We believe that schools will take into consideration the ongoing developments of the outbreak and the likelihood of further travel restriction, when they can move on to the matter of school fees later on. However, if classes were to be delivered online, it’d be less likely for school fees to be refunded.

    Now our top priority is to make sure that proper arrangements are made for students to come home safely. We would deal with concerns over school fees and class arrangement after Easter holiday, after urgent issues are solved. Thank you for your understanding.

  • 【Updated on 3/4】How is school closures affecting admissions for the September 2020 intakes?

    Under the school closures and social distancing measures, school staff are now working from home to continue with teaching and admissions work. We know that many of the school staffs are responding to the UK government’s appeal to keep schools open for children of key workers (such as doctors, nurses, etc). A small number of boarding schools with a more self-contained campus can even keep teaching and boarding provision open during this difficult times!

    Therefore, if students are interested in starting their education in the UK in the coming September, they can still submit their applications now. We will encourage the schools to extend deadlines as much as they can to allow flexibility for students and parents. For parents and students, we recommend that they should only confirm schools offers, after they have a thorough understanding of the refund policy – something our Education Consultants will guide you through.

  • 【Updated on 3/4】What arrangement will be in place, if in the unfortunate event that school can’t commerce as planned in September?

    Many schools and universities are starting to announce these arrangements in the past few days. From what we have read so far, these are some of the common arrangements to expect:

    • Special Teaching Arrangement: Online teaching will be in place, until students are able to return to the campus.
    • Special School Fees Arrangement: Before students are able to return to the campus, the majority of schools will only charge tuition fees and not accommodation fees. For boarding school students, this means that they will be charged day fees only (which is usually 60% to 70% of boarding fees).
  • Should students confirm school offer of the next academic year (September 2020) amid the Coronavirus outbreak?

    The uncertainty of the Coronavirus outbreak makes it very difficult to predict what will happen in the coming months. But we understand that students have worked hard for their offers, and it would be a pity give it up. We recommend that parents should only confirm their offers, after they have a thorough understanding of the refund policy – something our Education Consultants will guide you through. We’d also like to point out that due to capacity issues and admissions policies, students might not be re-issued an offer once they have given it up.

If you want to know more about the content, please kindly fill in the following electronic form. Our education consultants will get back to you shortly.

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Updated: 2020-3-20