An MBA by degree, an engineer by mind, and an entrepreneur at heart; Rachit Agrawal is a serial entrepreneur, passionate about providing simplified solutions to almost any complex problem. At AdmitKard, Rachit constantly strives to simplify the student applications to universities abroad to ensure an effortless journey. Leveraging his strong technical background, Rachit makes sure AdmitKard delivers the best. With a strong belief in the power of education, Rachit studied from the top institutes like IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He was amongst the top coders at IIIT Allahabad and was the President of the Student Council at IIM Calcutta. He has worked in top firms including world’s #1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies of US, South-East Asia and Europe.
The COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 caused the most significant disruption to education systems in the historical record, affecting nearly 1.6 billion students in over 190 countries across all continents. Restrictions enforced on schools, colleges, and universities impacted 94% of the world’s student population, rising to 99.9% in low and lower-middle-income countries including India.
The crisis is aggravating the already-existing educational disparities by limiting opportunities for many aspiring students who wish to study abroad. To combat the spread of viruses, many foreign universities continue to conduct classes digitally in the face of travel bans, curbs, and border restrictions. Some universities have even suspended their application processes, forcing many Indian students planning to study abroad to reconsider their options of desired countries.
Despite these challenges, a recent QS survey of 14,416 potential overseas students indicated that more than 90% of those preparing to study at a university abroad are still planning to study overseas. As per the data, any potential drop in foreign student enrollments is likely to be transient as only one out of every ten survey respondents says they have no plans to pursue international education in the given situation.
While it is true that the pandemic has caused students to work extra hard and adhere to certain guidelines when applying to foreign universities, many misconceptions have resulted in students adhering to the belief that their overseas study dream has come crashing down. So, anyone planning on studying abroad during Covid-19, don’t just give up. Here’s what you should know and how to prepare:
COVID-19 Vaccination and Guidelines
Before departing for a study-abroad programme, students should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 virus. Students who have had a double dose of vaccination are not only less likely to spread COVID-19 to the communities they visit, but they are also five times less prone to infections and more than ten times less likely to be hospitalised or die from COVID-19.
Students are also advised to read the COVID-19 Travel Health Notice for their study-abroad destination to learn about the COVID-19 situation there. Students must also verify with the destination’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health to gain knowledge more about the quarantine process. Some foreign countries require digital proof of vaccinations and RT-PCR test, make sure to carry them along with the other relevant documents required for Visa and admission.
Restrictions are not Permanent
In many European countries, travel restrictions are fluctuating between full-fledged lockdowns to normal restrictions depending on the rise of the number of COVID-19 cases. Even in the bleak situation caused by the spread of COVID-19, many universities are accepting international students, as western governments have begun to adapt to challenging situations and put numerous safety precautions, such as mass testing and “track and trace” programmes, into place to ensure safety.
Apply for Student Visa and English-Language Certificate
During the peak of COVID-19, many visa application facilities had to completely halt or reduce their operations. Thankfully, with the cases coming down, the trend is reversing, and most facilities are returning to normalcy. As the application process can take up to three months, all appropriate information about visa services can be easily found on embassy websites
Most foreign universities require international students to take an English proficiency tests, such as IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, IBT, TEEP, and others. There are numerous online options for taking these exams at the convenience of students. Having a language certificate is mandatory for many courses and students usually need to obtain the certificate before applying.
Defer your Studies for a Year
In a worst-case scenario, if a student is unwilling to take admission in a foreign university due to uncertainty and fear of contracting virus, deferring studies for a year is an available option. If one intends to take on this step, contacting the desired university as soon as possible is recommended. However, it’s entirely up to the university to decide whether or not one can defer. If it’s a possibility, students can utilise an extra year preparing for exams, interview preparation, developing S.O.P, applying for scholarships and adding experience to their portfolio.
Connect with Education Counsellors
During these unprecedented times, connecting to experts is the need of the hour. Many education counsellors worldwide collaborate with universities, institutions, and government departments to provide aspirants with the most up-to-date service and genuine advice. Based on their experience and guidance, counsellors can also assist scholars in locating the appropriate academic institute and course to further their research within a fixed budget.
Just like higher education, COVID-19 pandemic has offered us to learn critical lessons. Since higher education institutions have demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability, it is still possible to enrol in a course that one enjoys and gain valuable experience and exposure.