Flight chartered by Queen’s University brings Chinese students to Belfast to study

Róisín Cullen

A plane chartered by Queen’s University Belfast to carry hundreds of Chinese students from Beijing landed in Belfast on October 4th.

The Qatar Airways Boeing 777 contained approximately 400 students returning to their studies at Queen’s or starting their first semester with the university.

An earlier flight on September 18th had already facilitated the arrival of 370 Chinese students to Belfast, and the college made it mandatory that all students were required to show a negative Covid-19 certificate in order to board the flight.

Students paid the price of a normal commercial flight, £616, while the remaining costs were paid for by Queen’s.

This has been estimated by the Irish Times to be as much as £500,000 and although the university itself did not reveal the exact cost, they explained the thought process behind their plan on their official website.

“The University appreciates that international travel can be difficult to arrange at the moment so has arranged a direct charter flight to make it as easy as possible for students to travel to Belfast for the start of the next academic year.”

Students were transported from the airport to on-campus accommodation with the use of private coaches.

The Chairperson of DCU’s Chinese Society, Bradley Su, told The College View that he was disappointed by the lack of support provided to international students in DCU.

“Most of us think that it’s okay to take online classes in China because of the current pandemic situation in Ireland…Frankly, we feel a little bit sad about DCU’s approach,” he admitted.

Chinese students in Queen’s make up 2,600 of the university’s nearly 25,000-person student body, and constitute almost half of the international students enrolled there.

Chinese and other foreign students are a valuable source of income to higher level institutes, Queen’s in particular.

For subjects such as medicine and dentistry, a Northern Irish undergraduate would pay less than £5,000 a year to study at Queen’s whereas an international student could pay as much as £40,000 a year.

A spokesman for the university said that the students had settled well in Belfast.

“What Chinese and international students tend to like about Queen’s and about Belfast is that it is a small, safe city which allows them concentrate on their studies as opposed to going to a big metropolis like London, and also the fact that it is a campus university within a city,” he stated.

Róisín Cullen

Photo Credit: China Daily