Road Ahead for International Students
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies for education during COVID-19 crisis
In News: The ongoing lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has sent graduating students into a tizzy. Those looking to go abroad for higher studies are worried as well. The worst part is that since COVID-19 has affected most countries worldwide, no matter where Indian students planned to go, there is uncertainty.
- According to a survey done by study choice platform Study portals, 40 per cent of potential international students want to change their overseas education plans due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Interviews and announcements for several fellowship opportunities are also on hold in view of the uncertainty, putting plans on hold for many, who depend on funding help for studying abroad.
- International students in the US still have to deal with the future of their jobs, visas, post-graduation plans – and that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Students who have got admission
There are many students who have already got admission but are now reconsidering because the classes have moved online and there is no clarity by when situation will improve. So for students who actually want to live abroad, paying hefty fees just to attend classes online does not seem to be a lucrative option. Digital learning kills the purpose of studying in a foreign university and is an undue financial pressure, with no clarity of when the would be able to land a job.
Students who are studying and stranded in other countries
Most universities and colleges are shifting classes, exams and even graduation online. But the rapid spread of COVID-19 is causing more impact than a shift from physical to virtual classrooms.
Plus there are other questions: whether there is a possibility to extend the status of students whose visa statuses are set to expire but whose home countries are under health-related travel advisories, making them unable to go home. How the State Department plans to adjudicate student visa applications if consulates and embassies in countries affected by the outbreak are closed for extended periods.
Also, if the lockdown goes on until October and no one is hiring because not a lot of people start a job remotely, then it could be an issue because under OPT you’re only allowed 90 days of unemployment, so if you don’t get a job by the 90th day after your OPT start date, then your work authorization is revoked and you have to leave the country,
Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had asked US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo to extend visas of Indian students and skilled professionals stranded in the US following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students with Plan B – Applying for Indian Colleges
As the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many students aspiring for foreign colleges to turn towards Indian colleges, the competition for a seat is going to get tougher. According to a recent survey by Mindler, a career counseling firm, 56 per cent of students who aspired to study abroad are considering Indian universities as their Plan B.
The road ahead for international students
If there is a gap year: Necessity is the mother of invention and students will have to find out opportunities that arise online.
Special Student Relief: Countries can work on creating Special Student Relief – suspend or alter rules regarding duration of status, full course of study, and employment eligibility, for specific groups of students from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances.
Private Universities/colleges in India: All private colleges have suddenly have had a great demand in people applying because they are going to take that backup. The private colleges will have to increase the number of seats because the demand is going to outstrip the supply. Also private colleges should seriously look at even introducing quality distance learning courses.
Provision of career guidance: There is a need for better career guidance and counselling to be provided to students so that they can explore all the other options that they have and can stay mentally sane.
Connecting the Dots:
- COVID-19 and education
- University admissions post COVID-19 will get tougher as foreign aspirants turn to Indian colleges. What steps should the government take to tackle this situation?