Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

COVID-19 Update

ISCA is a small, family-run business, that has been running for 39 years. We have only been able to do so thanks to excellent relationships with each school. ISCA will always do whatever we can for our students, families and schools.

As things stand the ISCA Programme will continue to run between 12 July and 2 August 2020.

However, we appreciate that many schools and families have concerns about the current situation regarding COVID-19 and how their travel insurance may or may not cover them in the event of an enforced trip cancellation. In view of this, we are pleased to offer a deferment option for our programme.


There are therefore 3 options for each family:

  1. Join the programme in July 2020. To do this you will need to make your second payment by 31 March 2020 in accordance with our terms and conditions (15.4).
  2. Cancel your participation in the programme. Unfortunately, this will mean losing the non-refundable deposit, as per the terms and conditions (12.3).
  3. Defer your participation until our 2021 programme (11 July – 1 August). ISCA has spoken to all of our suppliers and, although none will refund, some will allow us to move the deposit to July 2021. This would mean your deposit transfers over to the 2021 programme. Unfortunately, there would be a deferment fee, relating to money ISCA cannot get suppliers to defer.

On Tuesday 17 March the UK government announced a package of support for businesses in the hospitality and travel sectors – those most affected by the current COVID-19 crisis (click here for more information). In our sector these measures can be used to assist in deferral support, they are not cash funds that can be used to compensate for other costs. After a meeting this morning, ISCA are delighted to be able to pass this support onto the families in full. 243 families are registered for ISCA 2020. A total of $275 per family has been raised for deferment, thus reducing the full price deferment fee from $595 to $320. The land only deferment fee will reduce from $470 to $195.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all schools, families and students for your patience and support while we do everything possible to offer options to ease the anxiety that has arisen as a result of coronavirus. This is an unprecedented situation and we will continue to do whatever we can to get the best outcome.



Why can you not just refund the deposit?

Regarding the non-refundable deposit, ISCA cannot refund money that it does not hold and has no legal right to recover. The full deposit is used to pay our suppliers and ISCA enter into non-refundable contracts with each of these suppliers. Whilst some have been flexible in allowing us to defer certain costs, not one supplier has offered a refund. If they do, then ISCA would pass this onto the families.

Why is there a deferment fee?

When participants sign up to ISCA they pay a non-refundable deposit. This non-refundable deposit is used to pay for certain non-refundable costs of providing the programme. These costs include visits, accommodation and flights. Each of these costs are non-refundable to ISCA. They are also, contractually, non-transferable. ISCA has spoken to each supplier and asked that these costs be deferred to next year. Whilst some (but not all) suppliers have agreed to this, they are not able to defer the full amount. Of the (average) $2,100 deposit, only $900 is deferable.

Why do we have to decide now?

The suppliers will only transfer funds up to 3 months before the trip begins (12 April 2020) so this fee must be paid by 31 March 2020 if you wish to defer.

Will my insurance reimburse me if I cancel?

Some families who have chosen to cancel have been reimbursed their full deposit by their insurer, in accordance with their personal trip insurance. However, each insurance company is different, so the deferment option has been created to try and offer an option for families who do not have comprehensive travel insurance.

Lots of airlines are allowing people to rebook at no cost, why is this not the case with ISCA?

It is correct that most airlines are offering customers the chance to rebook at no extra cost up to a certain date. However, the ticket must still be used within a 12-month period from the date of change. Therefore, despite speaking to each airline individually, they are not allowing us to defer a July 2020 flight to July 2021.

Can I wait and make the full payment balance in April or May 2020?

Unfortunately, this is not possible as it would remove the deferment option. Our deferment option is only available if we inform our suppliers 3 months before the start of the programme, 12 April 2020.

What if half my school group want to travel this year and half next year?

This will be possible. If this happens ISCA guarantee to fund a teacher place for each trip, even if there are a small number of students.

Can I pay in full now even if I defer?

Yes. If you contact your group leader they can ask ISCA to create a special payment link.

If I cancel can I still use the air ticket?

Unfortunately not. All of our airline tickets are booked as group fares on non-refundable rates. Therefore, whilst we can ask for special permission to defer the group ticket, we cannot defer individual tickets. The rules surrounding group tickets are significantly different from when you purchase individual tickets for travel.

What is the cancellation policy if I defer?

If you defer until July 2021 our cancellation policy is as follows:

  • Deposit and deferment fee non-refundable.
  • Cancel before 31 December 2020 – receive a full refund of second balancing payment (due 31 October 2020).
  • Cancel before 30 April 2021 – receive a full refund of the third balancing payment (due 31 March 2021).