UBC, federal government announce welcomed changes for international students returning to campus

It will be easier for international students to return to Canada following recent announcements from the federal government and UBC.

On July 19, the government announced that all travellers, regardless of vaccination status, will no longer need to receive a COVID-19 test at their port of entry or undergo a three-day hotel quarantine starting August 9.

In addition, starting September 7, all fully-vaccinated travellers — those that have received two doses of one of the four Health Canada-approved vaccines — will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry, meaning some international students can be accompanied by their family members when coming to Vancouver.

The government had previously announced that fully-vaccinated international students could skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine, which was widely supported by many.

Bhavya Nagda, an incoming third-year chemical and biological engineering student from Kenya, said that he was happy to hear about the eased travel restrictions.

“It's more advantageous for us,” he said. “The quarantine costs are very expensive, especially the hotel. It's gonna be easier to come into Canada.”

UBC sent an email to international students on July 20 announcing that those who still need to quarantine are eligible for what it called a “UBC Quarantine Bursary.”

“The bursary is intended to help alleviate financial hardship and may not cover the entire cost of your stay,” the email reads.

International students who are currently enrolled in classes, need to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving to Canada and have demonstrated financial need can apply online via a Qualtrics form, according to the email. The financial aid cannot be used towards UBC’s self-isolation accommodations in Walter Gage, however.

The amount of the bursary will vary on a case-by-case basis, Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs at UBC Media Relations, told The Ubyssey.

Nagda said he was happy with UBC’s announcement.

“It's similar to … last year where you could just come into the campus and quarantine for free,” he said in reference to the university’s decision to offer self-isolation accommodations for free. UBC began charging subsidized rates again in early March.

Nagda said that he wasn’t eligible for the bursary — he has his second dose scheduled in a few weeks — but that one of his friends was considering applying.

When asked if there was anything else that UBC could do to support international students, Nagda said that the university could increase the number of online classes offered in September.

“[For] so many guys, especially in India and even in my country, it's hard for them to fly to Canada because of travel bans and stuff … so if UBC did offer [more online classes] that would be beneficial.”