A dedicated direct flight taking hundreds of students from China landed in Northern Ireland's Belfast Saturday, allowing them to arrive ahead of the start of the academic year amid travel disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
Chartered by the Queen's University Belfast, one of the first universities in Britain, the one-way flight took off from Beijing Friday and brought new and returning students from China to campus.
All students were required to take a COVID-19 test 48 hours before departure and need to provide evidence of the test to board the plane.
A member of university staff was also on the flight to answer questions students have.
The university also organized airport pick-up, transport to their campus on a fleet of dedicated coaches, and quarantine support.
In his welcome message to the Chinese students, Ian Greer, president and vice-chancellor of the university, said he is delighted they have made the journey safely, adding that the university is working hard planning for the year ahead to ensure students have a safe and authentic student experience.
Meanwhile, Zhang Meifang, consul general of the People's Republic of China in Belfast, welcomed the students at the airport and thanked Queen's University for taking the unusual step to show its commitment to students from China.
There are currently more than 1,000 Chinese students studying at Queen's University Belfast.
With international travel badly impacted by the pandemic, a number of British universities are chartering flights from China, India and Africa to encourage international students to return in this academic year.
According to a recent survey conducted by QS, the higher education think tank which compiles the World University Rankings, only one in seven overseas students due to study in Britain this year still plans to come.