Guide to UK Guardianship for International Students
Looking for reliable guardianship services for your child in a UK boarding school? Our short guide has everything you need to know as an overseas parent and international student about guardianship in the UK.
Table of Contents
What is a Guardianship in the UK?
Every full-time international student under the age of 18 studying in the UK will need an appointed educational guardian. The guardian has a number of responsibilities over the student. Guardians have to assist the student with matters of the visa, passport, and residence permits. In some situations, the guardian may need to attend school meetings on behalf of the parents. The guardian will also be responsible for the student’s accommodation when the school is closed or in certain circumstances such as illness or suspension from school. In rare cases of emergencies, the guardian has the power to make decisions about medical treatments.
Given these responsibilities, it’s important for parents to find a guardian who’s responsible through a reputable guardianship service. A professional guardian can help ease a parent’s mind about their young child in boarding school.
UK Guardianship Law
Boarding schools are required by law to ensure their students are safeguarded and have their welfare taken care of, under the Children Act 1989. In other words, schools are responsible for the children’s welfare. In legal terms, schools may take on the legal parental responsibilities and act in loco parentis, in the absence of the children’s parents. However, there would be times when this legal parental responsibility will be handed over to a guardian.
The guardianship system for minors is based on a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) regulation that provides protection for children. While it is not strictly required by law, most boarding schools will insist on guardianships for international students to ensure the school meets certain safeguarding requirements. All in all, the purpose of appointing guardians is to ensure there are multiple layers of protection for the child. While schools provide several levels of protection with teachers, housemasters, tutors and so on, guardians are an external party who are vetted through different processes who can be relied upon to be impartial in cases of dispute.
While parents are the ones to vet, choose and appoint a guardian for their children, the school is also responsible for ensuring that their pupil’s appointed guardian or emergency contact person is suitable and fit for the job. Therefore, some boarding schools may insist on the services of guardianship agencies that are reputable and meet safeguarding standards.
UK Guardianship Services Cost and Fees
Annual fees for reputable guardianship services range from £750-£4,000. This fee is usually paid termly. In addition to this fee, a deposit may also be required. Some guardianship responsibilities are considered extra and may require additional fees. For example, the cost of staying per night at a guardian’s accommodation is around £50 on average. Additionally, parents may have to pay guardians extra to attend meetings on their behalf or to arrange transportation to and from the airport or to the guardian’s home. However, some guardianship services may offer different types of services, with basic packages covering just the bare minimum and premium packages including other services in its fees such as termly visits to the boarding school to check on the child’s wellbeing and distributing pocket money to the child.
Legal Guardianship UK Age
Guardianships are generally required by boarding schools and universities for children the age of 18 and under. There are a number of stringent requirements that a guardian has to meet. A guardian has to be the age of 25 or older and be a UK citizen. The guardian may not be the older sibling to the student, although other relatives such as uncles or aunties to the child may become their guardians. The guardian may not be living in a student accommodation of a university. This is to ensure that the child has an appropriate accommodation with adequate space when they have to live with the guardian.
Most importantly, there are requirements for guardians that are focused on the safeguarding of the child. Guardians must not have a criminal record or a history of drug abuse. Guardianship companies will be responsible for running a background check on their guardians and conduct home visits to ensure an appropriate environment for a child. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you select a guardianship service that is accredited.
UK Guardianship Safeguarding Accreditation
There are two major accreditations that guardianship agencies may have – Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students (AEGIS) and Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA).
BSA is an association of boarding schools around the world that is focused on promoting excellence in boarding education. Meanwhile, AEGIS was founded to ensure the welfare of international students studying in UK boarding schools and universities. Both organisations offer accreditation programmes to guardianship agencies that monitor their safeguarding standards and serve as a form of quality assurance for parents.
BSA offers the accreditation of BSA Certified Guardian to guardians that meet its standards. AEGIS upholds rigorous standards through its Gold Standard certification to outstanding guardianship organisations alongside the Preliminary Accreditation status for companies that meet its essential standards. Both BSA and AEGIS conduct inspections on guardianship agencies periodically to ensure standards are maintained.
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