COVID-19 is wreaking havoc worldwide, posing a severe threat to people’s jobs, education and health. One of the groups hit hardest by the pandemic are students studying abroad. Many of them have left home for the first time and are facing frightening consequences that are far beyond their control. From job losses to mental health issues brought about by the anxiety and uncertainty, Indian students abroad are experiencing unprecedented circumstances as a result of coronavirus.
Will COVID-19 Affect Indian Students’ Chances of Studying Abroad?
Right now, there’s no certainty about what’s going to happen in one month — let alone for upcoming intakes in September and January. Indian students set to join universities abroad have a tough choice to make about whether to take the risk of moving forward with their applications.
Courses are being offered remotely, with the prospect of physically moving to the destination country available once they lift lockdown measures. For many potential students, this defeats the object of applying to an overseas university. Not only that, but there’s the risk that individuals could be accepted to a degree course, start it — and then get denied for a visa once the country begins accepting applications again.
How Many Indian Students Are Stuck Abroad?
All commercial flights into India, including for Indian nationals, were halted on March 23rd. Reports suggest than the 1 million students who are stuck in foreign countries are struggling the most with the ban. Parents across India have taken to social media to urge the Modi government to find a way to bring their children home.
Sadly, for places like the U.S., leaving the country could prevent students from being able to return and complete the courses they’ve spent so much on.
Is Financial Support Being Offered to Indian Students Abroad?
The majority of countries are assisting international students, although in some cases, students may need to actively seek help rather than waiting for it to come to them. The U.K. government, for example, has noted that young people are less likely to step forward for guidance.
Students in the U.K. should call their university as soon as possible if they’re struggling. Landlords have been advised to be extra lenient, and international students have access to financial aid from the government. Visas are valid until May 31st for those who are unable to leave.
Lockdown measures have been eased in New Zealand, and the virus was well-contained. The government is helping those in need, and they’ve extended visas until September 25th.
While international students are not entitled to financial support in Australia, they are providing free extensions to visas that expire before May 31st and letting international students work longer hours.
Visa regulations have changed to allow online learning, and working time regulations are no longer in place — provided students take jobs in key roles.
Certain international students are entitled to the $500 Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Visas tend to be valid for as long as the course lasts, so Indians abroad in Canada should feel well looked after.
While the current situation is awash with uncertainty and doubt, there are cracks of light appearing on the horizon. Governments throughout the world have responded swiftly and generously to this current crisis, for fear that anything less could result in economic catastrophe. The majority of students have either returned home or received relief from the country where they reside.