Education

Offshore opportunities in the new normal

Universities have ramped up their online teaching facilities and made technological advancements in classrooms, while facilitating in-person lectures too.

Universities have ramped up their online teaching facilities and made technological advancements in classrooms, while facilitating in-person lectures too.

As pandemic restrictions slowly ease and countries open their borders to international students, Indian students with study abroad aspirations are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. While we may go back to on-campus teaching and learning, the approach to education has changed.

A recent higher education report by RedSeer states that the number of Indian students opting for international higher education is set to grow further to 1.8 million by 2024. In line with this, around 56,000 students received their study visas for the U.,K. between April 2020 and March 2021. This is according to data released by the UK Home Office. Despite the pandemic, this translates to about 13% increase over the previous year. As per data released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), there has been a 30% increase in undergraduate applications and a 4% increase in student applications from India overall, as of June 2021, when compared to the previous year.

New approach

While the pandemic was a setback in some aspects, it saw digital learning and blended classrooms find a place in universities, allowing students the freedom to pursue additional courses in parallel, at their own pace. Universities have ramped up their online teaching facilities and made technological advancements in classrooms, while facilitating in-person lectures to help students acquire the learnings online as well receive face-to-face social interaction. Blended learning and the relative ease of accessing courses on smartphones has not only increased the number of places where learning can occur but also made the possibility of global classrooms and international shared faculty very real.

Attitudinal and behavioural changes

There also has been an attitudinal shift in the way students are approaching “being on campus”, with great focus on gaining knowledge through face-to-face engagement with lecturers and other academic staff including the careers support team. They now focus on employability while choosing the course or study destination. There has also been a positive change in the approach to part-time job opportunities — they now have more access online. Globally too, universities have changed their approach to place the safety of the university community at the centre of all initiatives.

Mental health

The various lockdowns left many students anxious and distressed and prospective international students faced additional stress with uncertainty over important decisions such as whether they ought to take a gap year or pursue online education till international travel is permitted, enrol at a local university, or find a job to gain experience. As students are now returning to campuses, universities are working to help them acclimatise to the new environment for a smooth transition. On-campus student counselling and 24-hour helplines are some of the initiatives being implemented. Mental health support services, along with other commonly used support services such as housing, financial and employment services, will continue to be a vital resource.

In a global economy, it is difficult to continue without the inflow of international students. Acknowledging this and recognising the importance of cross-cultural skilled talent, countries have eased policies pertaining to international students to encourage inflow.

Some initiatives such as the air-bubble flight arrangements, moving India off the red list of countries, recognising vaccine certificates from India and easing quarantine restrictions for vaccinated individuals have boosted the confidence in the international co-operation agreements and further encouraged concerned students and their parents to proceed with accepting the offer letters and apply for visas.

The disruption in student mobility caused by the pandemic has not made a dent in student aspirations and so universities must keep pace with the changing student sentiments.

The writer is the co-founder of Fateh Education.


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 2:48:46 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/education/how-has-international-campus-education-changed-in-the-wake-of-the-pandemic/article38296416.ece