Much like the infamous Cholera plague that becomes the cornerstone of the iconic novel by Colombian author- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, COVID-19 has become the key point of discussion driving economies, business, personal and even academic lives.
Unarguably, the pandemic has impacted everyone on the planet and is now part of every discussion underway, when people, companies and businesses plan for the future. One would argue that it has also induced a critical blind spot on the desire of students who wish to study abroad, for a better and brighter future.
Yet several studies and reports indicate that the interest and yearning for high-quality education at international destinations still remains an exciting proposition for the majority of students, reports DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) citing reports from QS and Global Exchange.
There are approximately eight lakh Indian students currently enrolled in universities abroad as per stats from 2019 by the Ministry of External Affairs. The most popular universities are from the US, UK, Canada, Australia and UAE etc. If you are among many aspirants whose eyes light up during conversations of studying abroad and yet also concerned about your safety, health and finances, then here’s a list of key items that you need to keep a lookout for to make your dreams a reality.
- If you are concerned about the number of cases for COVID-19 then reach out to the student councils in the international universities to understand how they are tackling the pandemic. Understand how the situation affects the nature of the classes (i.e. whether the varsity will be conducting it in person or via online classrooms if they are considering lowering fees and syllabus for the academic year, if there are any options for deferment of the semester and if any part-time opportunities would still exist for students wishing to work etc.)
- Choose countries and universities where the pandemic is now under control and has strong health/ medical facilities. For example, New Zealand was fortunate to have restricted the spread of COVID-19 cases and now has cases only in low double digits compared to lakhs of cases elsewhere. New Zealand’s government earned rave reviews after successfully managing to control the pandemic and with its excellent health care facilities. From high-quality education to beautiful scenery, it thus is a solid option for students across the globe
- For academically bright students with weak financial stability consider talking to your education loan service provider or even the universities if any scholarships are available or if you can explore studying in countries like Germany who have reopened the economy and universities. Moreover, for highly talented students pursuing academics in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field, the country is renowned globally for its research-oriented industries and focus on excellence along with student friendly policies that include highly subsidies tuition fees (in fact some of the state-owned universities don’t charge any tuition fees at all!)
- Consider countries like the UK, Singapore and Canada which have relaxed their borders for students to ensure that they can return and study there. For instance: the UK has extended the duration of its Post-Study Work Visa to almost two years from the previous duration of just six months. It expects this move to gain high-quality talent who can build up successful professional careers or even become entrepreneurs in the country.
- Talk to your education finance provider to check if their loans extend to covering medical insurance and hospital treatment/emergency funds option. With this in mind, you can plan your stay at the international varsity of your choice.
- In the meanwhile, ensure to keep a tab on the bulletin boards of the various universities to see if there are any changes in the academic year or syllabus and you can be well equipped to come out stronger, better and more learned at the end of the pandemic!