How Covid-19 is affecting students’ plans to study abroad – India Today

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Students choose to study abroad for various reasons which go beyond the world-class learning at top institutions. One such reason is the ample cultural and global exposure that increases the chance of working and settling abroad.
The Covid-19 pandemic has reconceptualized much of these experiences in the past year and made students revisit their plans of studying abroad. However, with the continuous efforts of institutions and governments, there are some great updates as well as relaxations that are helping students fulfill their dream despite the crisis.
Here’s how institutions are helping students to achieve their international education plans:
Many students want to continue with their study abroad plan but are still in a dilemma. My advice to them would be to make the most of the current opportunity. It is one of the best times to apply to an international institution, as many universities have introduced waivers and scholarships for international students.
For instance, most US universities have waived off application fees and removed the GRE/ GMAT requirements for masters and SAT/ACT for undergraduate degrees.
UK institutions have also introduced additional scholarships and bursaries. Besides, they are also exploring multiple ways to ensure a smooth flow of education. While various institutions are offering provisional admissions with online copies of documents (like degrees and certificates), others are re-designing their syllabus and exploring ways to offer courses in a blended format.
Coronavirus outbreak has made students cautious about their health and their medical expenses. To resolve the health concerns of international students, many universities have a robust plan in place of providing vaccinations to their students on campus.
Besides, many universities are acknowledging the need for mental health support. Several institutions have established mental health support centres focusing on international students as they may need extra care when they settle in a different environment.
All the institutions have a Covid-readiness plan to ensure the health and safety of the students. When arriving at their destination, international students must submit their Covid-19 negative report to the authorities and undertake a precautionary self-quarantine for a specific period.
To help students during this process, most institutions are also offering airport pick-up, well-managed self-quarantine facilities, discounts on flight tickets, food, etc.
Due to the second wave of the pandemic in multiple areas, many institutions have extended their application deadlines while others have provided relaxation, allowing students to begin their course without wasting time.
For instance, several US universities have started assessing the application for undergraduate/bachelor courses based on marks obtained in 9th, 10th, 11th grade and the pre- board’s score of 12th grade (due to the delay in exams and results). However, students will still have to submit the 12th final mark sheets as soon as they receive them.
Since many students could not travel to their destinations in the last year, it has become tedious for applicants to get approval in time. Thus, the Canadian government and institutions have also allowed international students to begin their studies online until their study permit application can be approved and they can travel to attend on-campus classes.
Aspirants also have a longer window to accept admission offers and pay the tuition fee. Despite this, if students are still confused, they can always defer their course to the next in-take without any financial repercussions.
Though institutions understand that the time hasn’t been favorable to students, they’d still be interested in knowing how they utilised their time during the pandemic.
It is a great idea to up-skill themselves by opting for a few micro-credential programs online or enrolling themselves in a virtual internship to enhance their profile.
Additionally, they can also highlight if they volunteered in a community project or engaged in public service to strengthen their profile.
The current pandemic situation has left many students confused about their plans. Much to their relief, countries like Canada, UK, U.S., and Ireland have opened their borders with certain guidelines.
International students are required to carry a Covid-19 negative certificate while travelling to any of these countries and quarantine themselves for a specific period before joining their classmates on campus.
However, due to multiple lockdowns in various cities in India, the Visa Application Centre’s operations have also been impacted, causing delays in the visa approval process for various students. Therefore, universities have allowed students to register and start their classes online without a visa.
Though, they will still have to submit proof of their visa application. Once students get approval for their visa, they can travel to their destination to begin on-campus classes. If a student’s visa is declined by any chance, he/she has a much longer window to apply for a full refund.
Keeping up with the need of the hour, many institutions are offering a hybrid model of learning where students can take a part of their course online and rest when the international travel restrictions get lifted.
Universities have even set up digital libraries, made faculties and other resources more accessible, and created active peer groups to sustain connections and build a healthy and nurturing virtual learning environment for students. In short, institutions have been doing whatever they can to ensure the undisrupted flow of education for students.
At IDP, we are closely monitoring the developments and keeping the international education aspirants up to date. Things are gradually moving towards a positive direction, and students should apply for their courses early.
This will help them receive early visa approval, enabling students to travel to their dream destinations as and when the situation moves towards normalcy. Till then, keep believing in your dreams, keep your spirits high and never stop moving ahead in life!
Article by Mr. Piyush Kumar, Regional Director (South Asia), IDP Education
Read: 5 platforms that can help shape your career abroad
Read: Class 12 board exam 2021 delay will lead to tougher competition for foreign university admissions: What students can do
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