Students wait for the pandemic to end so that they can fly abroad

COVID-19 Education

Bengaluru: The pandemic has crushed the dreams of students and made them review their decision to go abroad for higher studies.

“The previous year got wasted because of the pandemic,” Kumari Thrikanth, who had completed his B-tech last year and was planning to do his Masters in the UK, informed The Observer.

Many countries, like Australia, the UK and US, have closed their borders and tightened visa restrictions, forcing Indian students to change their plans.

Naga Nikhil Krishnagiri, wanted to do MBA abroad, said: “I had started preparations to leave for Australia. But, unfortunately, this pandemic started.” As Australian boards have remained closed for a long time now, he is left with no option but to do MBA in India.

Disha A. Joshi, an international student counsellor at Krishna Consultants Overseas, said there are two groups of people. First, “those who have dropped (their plans) because they felt it was better to stay in India; and, second, those “who wanted to go abroad to study, get a job and settle there as they don’t have anything else to do in India”.

Parents are scared to send their children abroad due to rising Covid-19 cases amid a second wave. “My parents were scared to send me abroad and asked me to drop the idea,” said Thrikanth, who was preparing for IELTS and GRE for months before he changed his plans.

Students have invested a lot of time and money that have gone in vain. “I paid around Rs 14,000 for the IELTS exam, but my parents didn’t let me attend the exam as they were scared I would go abroad if I scored well. Banks were closed and the process was difficult, so I decided to quit,” he shared.

However, a few students managed to go abroad despite facing difficulties in getting loans, booking flights, and delays in getting visas and admissions.

Akhil Chella, who is doing his Masters in computer science in the US, said: “Limited flights were available and there was a problem in booking visa slots.” He thinks it’s better to build a career in the US instead of “wasting time in India”.

Educational consultancies have been incurring losses as fewer students have opted to study abroad.

Sanz International MD Safina Naaz said parents and students pressured them so much that they had to ask foreign universities to refund fees.

Dreamz Abroad Best Immigration Consultants Canada and Australia said students who are studying abroad are facing more problems than the ones who want to go there.

However, Manoj Kumar Tenugu, who travelled to the US during the pandemic for his Masters, said: “I came to the US just before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. If I had been a little late, I would have been stuck in India.”

According to a report released by the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education, Indian students contributed $7.6 billion to the US economy in the academic year 2019-20, even though there was a 4.4 per cent drop in the total number of Indian students. 

Prof B.M. Kumaraswamy, a Bengaluru economist, said: “The global economy has been adversely affected as students have stopped going abroad. Students who go are mostly engineering, medical and business students who want to settle abroad.”

A recent study revealed that 91 per cent of students who planned to go abroad before the pandemic are willing to go after the pandemic is over.

mahitha.o@iijnm.org

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