Study abroad Education

Off-shore prospects

Stalls at an international education fair organised by The Hindu in Bengaluru in January 2020.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

Due to the pandemic, Indian students are unsure about pursuing an education abroad. Here are a few typical questions raised by anxious students and parents.

Should students apply to programmes in 2021, or wait it out?

Apply but retain the option to defer your admits. With work on vaccines under way and studies reporting herd immunity levels in various cities, the pandemic should be under control by Fall 2021. Also, though most world economies have taken a hit, the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Germany have announced economic stimulus packages that will likely lead to faster recovery. Hence upskilling from a good university abroad is a great option to increase employability and position oneself for recruitment.

If students already have an admission for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021, to which term should they defer?

Due to the uncertainty around travel restrictions, visa issuance, and on-campus classes, if a student wishes to experience studying abroad, he/she should consider enrolling in Fall 2021. Otherwise, attending online classes can be an option. Regulations vary from one country to another.

For instance, the U.K. allows Indian students to apply for visas but has restricted international travel to chartered repatriation flights. People admitted to Spring 2021 can evaluate the situation over the next couple of months before deciding if they want to defer their admission to Fall 2021.

If deferring admission, how best can one stay productive?

Meaningful internships and online courses are an excellent option, but choose courses that offer projects and assignments, as opposed to just theoretical learning. Moreover, an appreciative Letter of Recommendation from your internship manager will be an asset to your application. If you are already employed, undertake challenging technical projects at work, in addition to pursuing impactful online courses.

Are universities offering discounts on tuition fees?

Several universities are offering discounted fees (at varying percentages) for online courses. The Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, provided a 70% reduction in tuition fees for taking a semester online.

Northeastern University offered a free summer scholarship four-credit course to admitted Spring 2021 students. Carnegie Mellon University made similar credit offers to its students. Since each university has its own tuition policy, it is best to contact the appropriate university’s admissions office to get more details.

Should students plan to study abroad at all?

Absolutely. Universities abroad follow a state-of-the-art curriculum, and their education system ensures that students gain and practice these skills throughout the semester. The assessments test conceptual understanding and not mere theoretical recall. Moreover, many courses require students to undertake hands-on projects that overlap with industry requirements. Universities abroad, thus, tend to provide the best platform for today’s generation to launch their careers.

Which emerging study-abroad destinations could serve as a viable alternative to the U.S.?

Due to the large number of quality American universities, brand value of the degree, and job opportunities, the U.S. will continue to remain a popular choice, especially for STEM students, whose skills will be invaluable in the post-COVID-19 era. However, better work-friendly visa and immigration policies in Canada, Germany, the U.K., and Australia have increased applications to universities in these countries.

In late 2019, the U.K. extended the post-study work permit, and their High Commissions in India are now processing student visa requests. Canada offers an easier permanent residency process for suitable immigrant candidates. Many German universities provide 100% free tuition for graduate students.

The results of the upcoming U.S. presidential election may also be factored in while evaluating alternative destinations. Cautious students keen on an American education are advised to apply to multiple countries, so they have a “backup option.”

The writer is the Founder of Galvanize Test Prep.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 1:30:50 AM |

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