Alumni engagement and philanthropy


01 July 2020

Universities around the world – including Queen’s University Belfast – are planning to charter flights to bring new and returning students from China to campus in the autumn, in a bid to tackle travel disruption caused by Covid-19.

With international travel badly impacted by the pandemic, and with many people still wary of travelling via London and other major airports, flying students from China to Belfast is seen as reassuring to both students and their families, while helping reduce fuss and anxiety levels for those making the trip.

In doing so, Queen’s was one of the first universities in the UK, along with others in Australia and New Zealand, to take the unusual step of showing its commitment in this way to students from China. The plans are outlined on special website entitled Our Campus Commitment, published recently by the Univeristy.

The dedicated direct flight being arranged is only for Queen's students travelling from China to Belfast. A member of University staff will be on the flight to answer any questions students may have. The flight will leave from Beijing on 18 September, allowing students to arrive ahead of the start of the academic year on 21 September. Students will be required to take a Covid-19 test 48 hours before departure and to provide evidence of the test in order to board the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 aircraft.

Tickets for the Queen’s Charter Flight – which will be £616 (GBP) one-way – are open to students who currently hold an offer for Queen’s and INTO Queen’s, and who meet the conditions associated with their offer. Places will also be open to current students returning to Belfast to start their next academic year.

Those students who wish to avail themselves of the flight should register and pay by 5pm GMT on Monday 20 July 2020.

If students are required to quarantine, depending on UK government guidance at the time, they will be transported to Queen’s accommodation for quarantine. If students are staying in Queen’s Accommodation for the rest of the year, their stay in quarantine will be free of charge.

Students not staying in University accommodation will be transported directly to the University campus as part of the Queen’s Charter Flight package. They will then be supported by University staff to arrange a taxi to ensure they arrive at their accommodation.

With the health and safety of students and staff paramount, the University has put in place a range of additional hygiene and safety measures on campus to minimise the risks presented by the virus.

Speaking to the Global Times in June, one student said that he was ‘happy and proud’ that Queen’s was making such a considerable effort for Chinese students. Xiong received his offer from Queen's before this year's Spring Festival, and was worried that he might not able to get to Belfast because of the pandemic.

"I was thinking about finding a job or applying for a university in Australia if I couldn't go to the UK," he said.

Yuan Zhengxiang, the head of OvEdu Education, a Shanghai-based education agency, told the Global Times that the move shows the University attaches great importance to Chinese students, and worked to "compensate" students who finished their curriculums requiring field instruction online.

There are currently no plans for a Queen’s Chartered Flight in January 2021, though if this changes, details will be published on the University’s Queen’s Campus Commitment and China Flight Information web pages.

Full details of the Queen’s Charter Flight package are available online.  

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast. 

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