Macro Moves

How coronavirus shattered the dreams of Studying abroad?

Created on 30 Apr 2020

Wraps up in 4 Min

Read by 3.3k people

Updated on 29 Aug 2020

Pandemic Stalls Study Abroad Dreams
As the coronavirus pandemic causes a clampdown on international travel, students are also feeling the heat. Study abroad programs are being canceled, exchange programs have been stalled and students remain stranded overseas in countries on a lockdown. Students who are currently pursuing or plan to enrol in Universities abroad are left in the lurch. India is the world’s second largest source of international students, with over 7,50,000 students studying abroad.

Around this time of year is when most students receive admissions from universities abroad and prepare to move — from figuring out finances to getting paperwork ready for visa processes. This is often well-planned and future moves too are based on this. But with the COVID-19 crisis, this has all gone haywire. Both parents and students feel disheartened and dampened their dreams of studying abroad. Students are unsure of what the future holds for them, and how long the restrictions caused by the pandemic will continue

New session, high hopes

There are many students who are either dropping or deferring their plans to next year, while some are still confused, some others are remaining hopeful and staying on track. Many students who were already pursuing courses returned to India before the situation got worse. Classes were suspended and they have opted for online classes but spending so much for a distance learning course will not make sense. Moreover, some courses are practical ones and require hands-on experience. It remains a ray of hope  that they don’t lose out on the opportunities they have paid for. Digital learning kills the purpose of studying in a foreign university and paying such a hefty fee for which many students had opted for an education loan. It is an undue financial pressure now with no clarity on when they will be able to land a job.

Students who had prepared for competitive exams in order to be able to go abroad have also been left in the lurch, with exams such as IELTS and GMAT being suspended. In the case of TOEFL and GRE, an option to take it at home is now being offered.

For some who are keen not to lose out on an academic year are resorting to Plan B and applying to Universities in India.

Universities in a Dilemma

Foreign Universities, too, find themselves in a predicament they have never before faced. For the ongoing semester, many have started online classes. And if things do not get better, the options given by universities fall largely into two brackets — a one-year deferral, or starting off the semester online and welcoming students to the campus when things get better. Interviews and announcements for scholarships are also on hold in view of the uncertainty, putting plans on hold for many, who depend on funding help for studying abroad.

With no reduction in fees announced, the second option has left many students in a fix, especially those pursuing one-year courses. Many students say they pay for the experience and not just the tuition, which spending the first semester off-campus will deny them. Going abroad includes the student experiencing a new culture, language, learning style, and country.Hence online options don't look lucrative. On the flip side though a student pursuing a course online, will help them is saving a large amount by way of food and accommodation expenses. At the same time they will be earning a Recognised Foreign Degree or Certification from the comforts of their home.

On the other hand, Foreign universities who have benefitted all these years by the influx of Indian students, are assuring them saying that there’s nothing that has changed and they look forward to welcoming students for Fall in August/September. Of course, the summer sessions and intakes have moved online. But worst case we expect that depending on how things span out, may be the fall semester will move online but after that it should be back to normal. However, these are all possibilities as there’s no confirmed news.

Surprisingly, the demand for international courses is still on the rise particularly due to lack of courses, choices and specialisation. Enquiries with Study Abroad Counsellors are still pouring in. Universities with a later start date have largely told students to wait and watch as the situation unfolds.

The lockdown has caused students and universities alike to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. The uncertainty being felt by the world in the face of COVID-19 is being mirrored by students.

It's inevitable that students' study abroad plans and experiences are being disrupted due to the outbreak of the virus. However, viable study abroad opportunities such as online learning and postponing study abroad plans (rather than cancelling them outright!) speak volumes on the students' perseverance in pursuing their study abroad dreams. Studying abroad will still be an option, albeit, with a few precautions.All in all, this too will pass and we should see a ray of hope in the coming months.

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An MBA Finance graduate, having worked in the Telecom and Banking sector as a Risk and Compliance Manager. An avid blogger with a penchant for traveling

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