SEED Global Education LLC

The impact of Covid-19 on Indian students going abroad

Contrary to expectations, Covid has increased the demand for foreign education amongst Indians. The inability to attend classes in-person over the past year, has created a backlog of foreign education aspirants resulting in an huge surge in applications for the 2021 intakes.

Of all the hard choices that the global pandemic has forced students in India to make, one of the most challenging is whether or not to study abroad.

When the COVID-19pandemic first hit, students simply deferred their study plans because of the uncertainty associated with international travel. In India as with much of the world, the pandemic was unsettling for financial reasons, with countless lost jobs and an economy that came to a halt. 

However, while the pandemic highlighted how logistically and financially prohibitive study abroad had become, there are still excellent reasons to choose study abroad -- now more than ever.

Changes and impact on student preferences

Universities have pivoted 360-degrees through the pandemic in order to make themselves as student-friendly and accessible as possible.

In April 2020, a survey by Shiksha Study Abroad platform of 850 Indian students that aspired to study abroad revealed that 50%would consider deferring their study plans due to concerns about the impact ofCOVID-19 on jobs and salaries, as well as personal health. The study also revealed that the majority of non-STEM students have reconsidered their decision to pursue higher education outside of India. One of the major reasons for this deferment, according to the survey, has been the diminishing chances of employability in the post COVID-19 world.

In spite of all this, universities have pivoted 360-degrees during the pandemic in order to make themselves as student-friendly and accessible as possible. One of the first transformations was to quickly adapt to online and distance learning so as to continue the facilitation of courses and studies to support public health and safety. 

Access to a global education has been one of the most interesting features of the COVID-19pandemic, with many education agencies having registered more than 350,000students at 100+ international universities in the US, Canada, UK & Hong Kong.

While the pandemic has limited people from physically meeting each other, universities have been able to provide students with virtual tours of the campus on ground, host webinars and online events to give students a feel of what’s in store, and help students connect with past alumni and teachers. All of these features may not have been possible to organize on such a massive scale and without impetus.

Nonetheless, one of the downsides of remote learning is the effect on campus life. Student networks live, breathe and absorb campus life in such close proximity that this experience truly becomes a part of a student’s holistic career and overall personal development. Campuses are major hubs, buzzing with diversity of thought and people. 

Though most universities have migrated their courses online, moving the entire curriculum to a digital platform remains a challenge. Many smaller universities may not be able to comply with this demand. In addition, at the rate at which content is being consumed, there is a growing need for more content, curriculum and course creators to work closely with university IT departments to enable online programs seamlessly. 

Despite the significant disruption to the economic sector, nearly two-thirds of prospective students travelling overseas to study want to continue with their application, according to the survey. Also, with such a massive digital transformation of universities the world over, institutions are better positioned to deliver easy access to online education than they ever were before.

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