Students apply to study abroad as countries open their borders

COVID-19 Education International

But are worried about a third Covid wave

By Simran Sharma

With the fear of pandemic fading, more students are planning to study abroad,  say immigration consultancies. 

The pandemic and lockdowns made many students step back from studying abroad. The removal of travel bans and Covid restrictions in most countries has resulted in students making a beeline for foreign universities.

Tanisha Kannan, who is applying for Masters in International Relations at the London School of Economics, informed The Observer: “Due to Covid, all colleges were conducting online classes. I wasn’t interested in paying so much money just to do it home and not experience college life, so I didn’t go last year. I’ve applied again for next year as they have opened up and offline classes are guaranteed. With talk of a third wave of Covid-19 coming up and some saying it’s already begun, I have wasted one year of mine and can’t do the same for the next year. So, despite whatever happens, I will have to continue with my education, of course with safety and precaution in place.” Her parents would fund her education abroad.

 Students are worried about the imposition of lockdowns due to the coronavirus. Tushar Satish Ekar, who is studying at Coventry University, said: “By the time I had applied for the course, the second wave of Covid had just passed and the UK had already recovered from it. They opened their doors for international students, so I thought it’s not a bad idea to go. I am not scared of the virus but I’m worried that there might be another lockdown if a third wave comes, which means I won’t be able to attend classes on campus.”

Mahitha Owk, who is awaiting her visa, plans to join a college in the US in the coming year. “No one knows what is going to happen, but whatever has to happen will take place so we have to accept it. If things go well, I’ll be there.”Many parents and students dislike the uncertainty. 

Tanisha’s mother Judy said: “Since Tanisha is completely vaccinated, I do not have the fear of sending her abroad. I was a bit scared and unwilling to send her when we were initially hit by the virus. I wouldn’t say I’m skeptical now as I cannot let her take another gap year due to Covid. Her life has to go on.”

Immigration consultancies have an interesting take — the number of students did not decline due to the pandemic. Sunayna Chhabra, a consultant with Y-Axis, said there was never a dip in the number of students going abroad to study.

Ankur Sharma, also from Y-Axis, said: “The number of students going abroad for education increased in pandemic time. During the pandemic, other visas were taking longer, so many people started taking student visas as they just take 6-8 months to come.”

Raksha, a  Consultant from IDP, Bengaluru,  told a similar story. They have been getting around three lakh applications in a year for Canada. “The number of student applications for education abroad never really dipped during the  pandemic as many attended online classes and some got their admissions deferred.”

Contrary to this, Kiran Muralin, a consultant with Global Gateways, said they faced losses during the pandemic and now their business is reviving slowly. “By now we have had only six applications.”

Roohi, a consultant with Sandpiper Education Abroad, said they have seen an increase in the number of students going out for studies. There has been a 40 percent rise after the lockdown was lifted.

The coaching institutes The Observer spoke with had a similar take. Chandrabati Chatterjee from Hurray Overseas Education said: “The number of students coming for IELTS /TOEFL coaching had gone down drastically, but now things are getting better.”

Abjy Kurian, an instructor in Crack Verbal Institute, said the student strength of their institute increased in the beginning but then it fell in late 2020. “Since most universities have waived GRE and GMAT requirements, students are trying to make the most of it.”

Dr. Amit Maheshwari, a physician, said: “The fear of Covid is waning among people as cases have gone down. There is a very slight possibility of a third wave as vaccination is going on in full swing and no new variants  have been found as of now.”


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