India is the second largest source of international students after China. Around 1.1 million Indian students study abroad. The most popular destinations for students willing to study abroad are the United States, Canada, Europe, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Indian students are baffled by the global COVID-19 pandemic about the steps to be taken when applying abroad. There is concern about the changing quarantine regulations worldwide. It has been reported that many students are stuck abroad without food or accommodation because the universities have had to close.
The fear of no clarity has caused a feeling of rethinking among many students. The outbreak of COVID-19 has prompted Indian students to rethink their plans to study abroad. According to a report, Indian students, especially from non-MINT countries, ie from the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are rethinking their plans to complete a higher education abroad.
Delays in the study abroad plan
There are many cases where plans to study abroad are postponed for a semester, a year or so and are not canceled. Many universities have yet to announce their operational plans by September. Higher education institutions are reported to be likely to introduce e-learning programs for students around the world, as this currently seems to be the most practical solution. However, students are not sure how useful such online courses are.
In addition to academic knowledge, one of the main reasons for deciding to invest in education at a foreign university is the experience on campus. The ability to have a conversation with your professor, sit in class, and have discussions, interact with other students and colleagues, libraries, extracurricular activities, and infrastructure experiences on campus plays an essential role in building the student’s personality during the Studying abroad. Now, if the platform is switched to an online platform and universities do not have a full plan to demonstrate the operations soon, it will be difficult for students to make admission or deferral decisions.
Chances of failure due to online courses
Sumeet Jain, co-founder of a Delhi-based overseas education consultancy, Yocket, predicted that if the universities offered online courses without cutting fees, there would be a big dropout from universities abroad. It’s easy that students face a financial crisis during this pandemic and are unsure of their finances. In this state of uncertainty, they may not take credit risk for online classes. They are also deprived of all facilities and exposure on campus. This is quite a disadvantage in itself.
The British Council survey in April found that around 43% of students are unlikely to cancel their study plans abroad and around 38% are likely to cancel or delay their plans. The cancellation percentage is lower than the delay percentage. However, the future will be certain.
Uncertainty in decision making
An important question when studying abroad is whether the universities offer online courses or open physical enrollments until September.
This question leads to further uncertainty: If the classes are physical, the students receive a visa in good time to be able to travel abroad to the chosen university. The visa procedure was severely impaired due to the restrictions on travel abroad during the ban. Additional requirements related to medical clearance and quarantine issues have been added. This seems to make the visa application and approval difficult and extensive.
Another factor is that the high school board exams in India have been postponed. There is still confusion about the date of the result. In such a situation, students who are willing to study a bachelor abroad cannot submit their results for applications abroad.
The economic slowdown is another reason for the uncertainty in making decisions about studying abroad. Many students worked during their studies to gain work experience and support their finances. However, during this pandemic, when people lose their jobs, there is little chance of getting a new one.
Avneesh Sharma, an engineer in Jaipur, Rajasthan, said he plans to go to Australia for his master’s degree, which is rejected due to the pandemic. He also expressed concern that he will not be sure that he will be able to get a job after graduation, as countries around the world will experience an economic slowdown. Unemployment and job losses will occur worldwide.
Impact on Indian universities
The crises have hit Western countries harder, and although the situation does not appear to normalize in the coming years, this has also impacted university funding. In addition, some East Asian students seem uncomfortable to be willing to invest their time and money amid this confusion of class arrangements that risk insecure lives. Generally, a pandemic is followed by depression in the country. In this financial crisis situation, there is a possibility that students are more likely to invest in Indian universities and the chances of demand for local universities are likely to increase.
According to Professor Saikat Majumdar, you looked at the country and its situation before thinking about accepting offers. For example, New Zealand coped very well with the crisis, and surely the universities there must offer better facilities for students. However, the United States is currently in poor shape. You also have to see what the universities offer. If universities offer a full online course without cutting fees, students will certainly not choose to do so simply because they will lose all of their campus experience at a full price.
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The concerns about travel, accommodation and visas are still unclear. These depend on the requirements of the situation and government reforms.
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