Education, which is a critical determinant of a country’s economic future, has been significantly disrupted by the pandemic. In response to the growing coronavirus outbreak, educational institutions have been forced to cancel classes and close the doors to campuses around the world in the last few months.
College campuses and universities are the buzzing cultural hubs where students live, study and strengthen the future of a country. Students across the nations and globe come together to build their careers. The foundations of this complex environment have significantly been impacted recently by the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak. In particular, we see a dark future for the international education scenario.
India has an excellent track record in international education exchange programmes. The ongoing crisis has a profound impact on both Indian students who study abroad as well as the international students who are in India now.
Issues ranging from social, economic and health have severely affected the healthy educational environment. Problems like staying away from the family or home country remain the secondary issue for these students. In contrast, the primary concern for international students is productivity. It is relevant to mention that, in the last budget 5 per cent of the total budget, i.e. Rs 99,311.52 crore was allocated for higher education and mainly the focus was to convert India into an international educational hub.
As we know that international studies are never cheap and it inculcates hefty college fees, living costs, travel cost and food costs too. Due to the lockdown of universities, the students have to settle for online classes which proves less productive than the authentic or traditional courses. Almost every country is in a state of recession, so it becomes difficult for current students to grab placements this year, especially in countries like the USA where the unemployment rate is at a hike.
For most of the students who opt for foreign education, they have plans to settle down in the same country after getting a decent job. Such programs have also been demolished due to the current situation.
Moreover, many university campuses are used as COVID healthcare centres. Hence, the students are not allowed to stay in the hostels. Thus, creating a problem for those students finding residence amidst the lockdown.
For students who are currently in their final semester, they are facing a next-level three-fold problem. These students have availed of visas for a limited time, the expiry of which can create problems. However, if they come back to their homes amid the ongoing semester, then they have to go again for the convocation ceremony and availing a student visa may seem difficult at the time.
Usually, most of the final year postgraduate students have to prepare a thesis or dissertation, and since all the universities are closed, the access to study materials has become problematic.
International travel is suspended, and there is no certainty when it will commence. As a consequence, many students are stuck in different countries. Recently, students from the US and UK had urged the ministry of external affairs to help them get back to their homes as the living situation is getting worse for them with each passing day.
Hamza Ali, an international student in India from Dubai, speaks about his problems during Coronavirus Pandemic:
“International travel is not allowed, so I am not able to go to my home, and as a result, I am stuck in India. Also, online academics are creating a problem because there are multiple occasions when one is not able to attend classes, and the main reason is internet connectivity. So, if I miss any class, then I have a fear of missing out from studies or content that is being delivered through online lectures.”
Tulika Mamgain, an international student in Canada from India, says that:
“I am studying overseas since September 2019, and it has been a wonderful experience. But, as a consequence of the pandemic we have our classes online, it becomes difficult to communicate at times and doubt clearance hardly takes place.”
Also, amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Indian students are rethinking their prospective foreign education plans. According to The Economic Times Paywall report, nearly 1,00,000 students head overseas every year. Still, experts forecast that 40-60 per cent will scrap their plans this time.
The top concerns for students are safety, especially since the deadly virus has wrecked top destinations such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
The short term hurdles for students include getting visas and booking airline tickets. While the significant obstacles or fears revolve around finding jobs after attaining the degree because of the unstable economies.
It is quite evident that with the virus spreading across 212 countries of the world and cases emerging in more and more countries, more students are choosing to defer international study offer to a later year, rather than trying to find another country to study.