Coronavirus disrupts dreams of Indian students wanting to study abroad - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Coronavirus disrupts dreams of Indian students wanting to study abroad

ByNeeta Imandar
Mar 18, 2020 12:45 PM IST

With the outbreak of Corona, there has been a sudden break on these international study aspirations. Already last year, the number of internationally mobile students from India plummeted due to challenges emanating from the consular policies of the US and other destination countries. However, COVID-19 has come as an unprecedented challenge to international education.

Despite jokes and memes that keep Indian youth awake, agile and afloat through the tough times, there is a growing concern among a section of them who planned to study abroad. They prepare for years, write several examinations including IELTS or TOEFEL, approach consultants and plan much ahead in identifying study destinations and working towards them.

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

With the outbreak of Corona, there has been a sudden break on these international study aspirations. Already last year, the number of internationally mobile students from India plummeted due to challenges emanating from the consular policies of the US and other destination countries. However, COVID-19 has come as an unprecedented challenge to international education. Just as much as it is a concern for students aspiring for the experience of studying abroad, the host universities are also in deep distress over how to fill the gaps in diversity management and anticipated deficits in their own budgets.

India has been the second largest source country for international students globally, second only to China. With China being affected deeply by the virus, for the first few weeks, the universities that largely host international students were looking for Indian study abroad seekers. However, with the picture getting gloomier, it has hit a deadlock with both host universities and students left in lurch without any ideas to counter it.

Last year, over 7.5 lakh Indian students opted to study at universities abroad with the US, Canada, Australia remaining the top aspirational destinations followed by UK and Germany. The unexpected outbreak of Corona has disembarked such aspirations of young Indians. For the academic year starting August-September, students should have ideally started Visa applications that have come to a grinding halt at present.

It’s time Indian universities get into innovative programs to keep these study-abroad seekers engaged in a learning that meets their expectations and prepares them for their sojourn - possibly, hopefully, next year. In a series of interviews conducted by the IHE (Internationalization of Higher Education) Research Team at Manipal, it was found that seven out of ten students have already dropped the ideas of going abroad for studies in the upcoming academic year. Interestingly, it was observed that most of them are not calling off their plans for fear of Corona but the anticipated visa rejections.

Quite a few of them are now looking for one-year postgraduate diploma programs that are generic in nature, prepare them culturally and academically for their study abroad. Ayesha, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from a reputed university in Bangalore says, she is looking for a one-year postgraduate Diploma program that can harness her academic abilities and intercultural competencies. “And once the virus vanishes from the scene, I wish to be in the best of universities in the US or Australia” she quips.

Her friend Ashutosh also having similar plans feels, “unfortunately, we are not finding many options in this category (one-year program) from the best of universities in India; there are only a few like Young India Fellowships from Ashoka and its already late for us to apply for that.” he says as he regrets waiting for the decision of the host university and missing out on Indian opportunities.

Vineet finished his BTech three years ago and is working at present. He had all plans of making it to Germany this year after his Visa to the US last year was denied for ‘reasons not known’ as he puts it. He is deeply disappointed with the developments and says he would rather continue for a year more working before exploring other opportunities.

Shruti who already holds a master’s degree in Public Health from a reputed private university was all set to take up a PhD program in the US and is saddened by the developments. However, she says “it is time to cooperate with the rest of the world in combating the virus; PhD can wait though I am yet to explore what I would do for the academic year ahead.

If this is the case with the outbound students in India, the inbound numbers are also expected to be affected. Those universities in India, which hosted a number of international students, can expect the numbers to be reduced by more than half if COVID-19 is not contained in next two months.

It is time universities take a closer look at these developments and plan for the academic year ahead. The State and Central Universities that hosted many international students may have to decide on allotment of those seats to other seekers in a planned manner already if the numbers drop as anticipated. Private universities also need to prepare themselves for this untoward development in internationalization of their campuses.

Internationalization of Higher Education (IHE) is one of the parameters in ranking of the universities and that makes universities anxious at times like this. Though only five to ten percent is accorded to internationalization in the ranking matrix, everyone knows, academic reputations that has a lion’s share is also determined by international dimension. Therefore, all universities, big and small, private and public, Indian and others in the world are gripped in a new situation.

Indian universities might have little to lose considering there has always been a large gap in outgoing and income international students in India with outbound far exceeding the inbound. It is just that Indian universities both public and private need to brace in light of this new development offering innovative programs in the upcoming academic year. But the challenge is, a period of three months available now before the academic year takes off is too short for any new academic adventures.

The author is professor and Head of Manipal Centre for European Studies, Manipal Academy of Higher Education

Elevate your career with VIT’s MBA programme that has been designed by its acclaimed faculty & stands out as a beacon for working professionals. Explore now!

See more

Get latest news on Education along with Board Exam, Competitive Exam and Exam Result at Hindustan Times. Also get latest Job updates on Employment News

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, July 15, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On