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Global pandemic puts study abroad dreams on halt for students of Punjab region

Immigration experts say over 1 lakh students from Punjab and Chandigarh land in foreign countries like Australia, Canada, UK and others for pursuing education every year
Dar Ovais, Chandigarh | By Dar Ovais, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON APR 15, 2020 09:10 PM IST

Rohan Verma, 21, was looking forward to pursuing a course in 3D animation from Canada. Verma is now in a dilemma as the lockdown has halted his visa processing.

With high commissions dysfunctional and countries imposing restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the study abroad dreams of thousands of students in the region are gripped by uncertainty as the world grapples with the Covid-19 lockdown.

Verma said, “I had applied in a Canadian college, but my visa processing was stopped. I am not able to decide what to do next. If I apply here again, I will have to pay the fee again.”

Immigration experts say over 1 lakh students from Punjab and Chandigarh land in foreign countries like Australia, Canada, UK and others for pursuing education every year.

Navneet Singh, an immigration consultant, said, “Last year we had sent around 1,200 students abroad for studies, but we have experienced a dip this year. Worst affected are those who have already paid their fee and their files are with the high commission offices. Every May and September countries like Canada and Australia take students, but we aren’t sure whether students will be able to go in the fall either.”

“Around 50,000 students go abroad from here between July and September, but this year the number will go down,” said Jatin Wadhwa, director of a Candigarh-based education abroad consultancy.

Equally hard pressed are those students who are already enrolled in courses abroad, but couldn’t fly due to the lockdown.

For 18-year-old Simranjeet Kaur, lockdown has deferred her semester to January 2021. “My classes were scheduled to start in May but now they will start in January next year. I do not have any option but to wait.”

Managing director of an overseas solution provider said, “We receive applications mostly from the students of Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The intake that was about to happen in May in Canada and few Universities of Australia has been deferred. Students as well as parents are in panic.”

“For September intake last year we had received over 100 applications, but this year we have not received any. There is much uncertainty because we do not know when board examinations will be conducted. I think we will see a dip of 60% in applications this year,” said Rakeshwar Walia of an immigration and education consultancy based in Khanna.

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