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Guidance for international students travelling to Wales from an amber list country.

First published:
1 April 2021
Last updated:

University supported accommodation

To reduce transmission of COVID-19 when arriving from overseas, international arrivals must follow border rules depending on where they have travelled from.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the How to self-isolate when you travel to Wales: coronavirus (COVID-19).

This guidance is to inform students arriving in the UK and travelling to study in Wales from an amber list country.

We strongly recommend that students travelling from outside the UK should contact their university before they intend to travel to the UK to find out about the support available from their university during the required period of self-isolation on arrival.

As a student travelling to Wales from an amber list country you should book university supported accommodation for your 10 day isolation period.

International arrivals travelling from a red list country should follow the rules on arriving in the UK from a red list country and stay in a quarantine hotel before they travel to Wales.

Please refer to the detailed guidance on arriving in Wales from overseas, for the most up to date information.

Amber list countries and territories are places that are not in the Common Travel Area or on the red list of countries.

A person who is displaying symptoms must self-isolate and book a test.

The rules in Wales may be different to other parts of the UK or other parts of the world. Please familiarise yourself with the COVID-19 guidance in Wales before you arrive. This includes mandatory face coverings in all indoor public places.

Guidance for students

The Welsh Government has identified a very high risk from international travel which can introduce new cases of coronavirus in Wales.

The Welsh Government working in partnership with universities, Public Health Wales and local authorities want to ensure international students are welcome and safe when they travel to Wales, so we have agreed a 'Student Protect' policy as part of our Test, Trace, Protect strategy to ensure international students can isolate safely and securely for the required period. To reduce risks and to ensure arriving international students are supported, universities will provide accommodation and other support to international students during the required period of isolation before they join their student households.

The risk comes from joining a shared household. Any international traveller joining a household with other people places unnecessary risk on others living in a shared household, as we know the easiest way to catch COVID-19 is from the people you live with. In addition that risk also creates a risk of onward transmission to the people your housemates subsequently meet.

To help reduce this risk we are strongly recommending that all students arriving from overseas, should book supported accommodation with their university before they arrive in the UK. You should do this before you plan to travel, so you can add this address on your passenger locator form.

Why am I being asked to isolate in university supported accommodation?

We know that after a year of disruption due to COVID-19 you will be keen to return to your student household and your housemates or to meet new friends. However, isolation in a shared household could be extremely challenging, especially when friends have not seen each other for long periods or where you don’t really know the people you will be living with.

In all honesty, even the most determined individual may after a few days, when you feel fine and you have a negative PCR test, think the risk is minimal and may be tempted to bend the rules.

To avoid this pressure and to protect you, your housemates and our communities, we have asked universities to support all international students to isolate for 10 days in dedicated self-contained accommodation.

The law requiring you to isolate means:

  • stay in your accommodation
  • do not have visitors
  • do not go out (you must not go out for work, university, shopping, exercise or to visit friends)
  • you must arrange for shopping and medicines to be delivered to your accommodation

To help keep Wales safe you should:

  • not use shared areas in your accommodation such as dining areas, sitting rooms or laundry rooms, whilst isolating
  • not meet other people even if they are staying in the same accommodation block, (unless you travelled together and are in shared self-contained accommodation)
  • keep the door to your self-contained accommodation or room closed
  • keep your room well ventilated to the outside

In an emergency, if you have to leave your room you should wear a face covering and keep 2 metres apart from others.

Your university supported accommodation will provide self-contained accommodation with private bathroom facilities for your personal use (or for use by the group you travelled with), they will not be used by any other person.

Your university supported accommodation will either be self-contained accommodation with a private kitchen which will be for your own personal use (or for use by the group you travelled with) or if there are no kitchen facilities, your university will provide you with meals and snacks for you to eat in your room. 

You should not leave your self-contained accommodation.

Remember, a chance encounter and a gossip in the corridor could be enough to spread the virus.

If you leave your self-contained accommodation you could be breaking the law and may be subject to a fine or criminal prosecution.

Guidance for universities

Universities in Wales have agreed to take care of all students arriving from amber list countries during the isolation period to support the Test, Trace, Protect strategy and help keep Wales safe.

Our international students are a welcome part of our communities in Wales.

This guidance is for universities to help them provide supported accommodation to all students arriving in the UK from amber list countries.

Students arriving from an amber list country will be under a legal requirement to isolate on arrival in Wales. All student arrivals from amber list countries must go straight to the place they are staying when they arrive in the UK and must isolate for 10 days on arrival in Wales.

To reduce transmission of COVID-19 when arriving from overseas, international arrivals must follow border rules depending on where they have travelled from.

Please check regularly as these are subject to change at short notice.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the How to self-isolate when you travel to Wales: coronavirus (COVID-19).

Supported accommodation contract

To support international student arrivals and ensure they are able to comply with the self-isolation rules, in partnership with the Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and Local Authorities, universities have agreed to provide support for all students arriving from amber list countries.

Universities have agreed to ask all international arriving students from amber list countries to enter into a contract prior to arrival in the UK to ensure students stay in university supported accommodation for the isolation period.

Universities are asked to communicate with all international students before arrival to ask them to enter into the accommodation contract for their isolation period.

Students should be informed that if they choose not to comply with the accommodation contract they may be subject to enforcement action if they fail to comply with the legal requirement to self-isolate.

International arrivals must supply the address where they will be staying on their Passenger Locator Form.  Students must have the address in advance of arrival in the UK. Therefore, universities must be able to supply the students with the address of their accommodation prior to arrival in the UK.

Universities have agreed to provide supported accommodation either free of charge or at a minimal cost.

What should supported accommodation include?

Supported accommodation should provide self-contained accommodation for the sole use by an individual, or group of students where they all travel together from the same international port. Self-contained accommodation may be a room with private bathroom facilities or a self-contained studio with kitchen and bathroom facilities.

Depending on the type of self-contained accommodation, universities should either make arrangements for online grocery deliveries to be made to the door or provide daily ready prepared food deliveries to the door. This must include breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snacks.

Universities must also provide:

  • help with the delivery of essential medical supplies to the door
  • help with testing requirements, including collection from the door and sending back completed tests

In addition, we recommend supported accommodation include:

  • free Wi-Fi
  • bedding, towels and laundry service

In addition universities should consider support for student mental health and well-being and may consider buddy systems, organised exercise activities, online social activities as well as online on-boarding and orientation.

Universities should encourage students to accept the supported accommodation, and may require students to enter into the contract as part of the conditions of the institution however, there is no legal requirement for a student to do so. Universities may wish to consider what support is available for any student who chooses to isolate in their own accommodation.

Contact with others

Self-isolation means students should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential care. The only friends and family students can have contact with are those who travelled with them and whom they are sharing self-contained accommodation. International arrivals must not leave their specified premises.

People you travelled with

Where international students travelled together from the same international port, universities can arrange for them to share self-contained accommodation but this must be for the sole use of only those individuals who travelled together.

Students who travel together can continue to have contact amongst themselves but it is recommended that where possible social distancing should be maintained.


It is recommended that public transport is only used where no alternative travel arrangements are possible.

To minimise the need to use public transport, universities may want to consider providing transport for international students arriving in the UK, with the appropriate risk assessments and mitigations in place or provide a list of recommended transport providers prior to travel.

You may want to recommend a date of arrival and preferred points of arrival in order to support the coordination of on-ward travel arrangements.

Working with the Arriving Travellers Team

Working in partnership with the Arriving Traveller Team (ATT), each university will have a named single point of contact for international arriving students and the ATT will also provide each university with a named single point of contact. This will allow the university or ATT to make contact on behalf of the students, if there are complex issues to work through such as an arriving traveller losing their home test kit or not receiving their results before the end of the isolation period. 

Universities will share a list of supported accommodation addresses in advance with the ATT. This will enable the ATT to identify any arriving student who is not staying in supported accommodation and work with the relevant university so they can offer support.

The ATT will develop a team who are able to develop experience in dealing with arriving students.  ATT make a number of telephone calls to all arriving travellers to check they understand the requirement to isolate and to check they are able to do the tests and return them and to offer any support.

Enforcement action

Any international arrival not complying with the requirement to isolate may be subject to enforcement action.

Students who test positive

A student who tests positive will need to be supported during the required period of isolation, which may be longer than 10 days.

Where a student tests positive on day 2 they would need to self-isolate for a further 10 days, this would mean 12 days isolation in total.

Where a student tests positive on day 8 they would need to self-isolate for a further 10 days, this would mean a total of 18 days isolation in total.

What happens if a student arrives with symptoms?

Where an individual arrives displaying symptoms they are required to make the authorities aware of this, prior to disembarkation if possible, and demonstrate that the accommodation in which they are staying is suitable. It is also worth noting that there are public health powers to isolate and direct those with symptoms to a screening facility that may be exercised.

If a student develops symptoms whilst travelling they must not use public transport and it is recommended that they do not use shared transport.

The onus is on those persons arriving with symptoms to arrange travel to their accommodation and isolate as necessary but universities may wish to consider how to support students making these arrangements. Institutions may wish to develop a mitigation strategy to support students arriving with symptoms.

A person who is displaying symptoms should self-isolate and book a test.