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Study abroad dreams shattered or delayed

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Some students believe it is time to look for a plan B and apply for colleges in India

With an acceptance letter from Australia’s Deakin University, 21-year-old Triptha Luthra was on cloud nine a month back but is now glued to TV following news updates from across the globe about the coronavirus pandemic as uncertainty surrounds her study abroad dream.

COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

For Anoushka Ray, who had plans to go to New York for the session beginning in September, the development is demotivating but not a factor to change her entire life plan.

However, Tara Osan, who had acceptance letters from multiple colleges in Canada and Italy, believes it is time to look for a plan B and apply for colleges in India.

The three are among, several students whose study abroad plans have either been shattered or delayed due to lockdown restrictions imposed in various countries across the globe leading to suspension of classes and visa processes.

Also read: Coronavirus | Thousands of Indians stranded overseas are disheartened as govt. refuses to lift passenger ban

No clarity on jobs

Equally hard pressed are those students who are already enrolled in courses abroad and are in final year with no clarity on jobs and their visa deadlines racing against lockdown timelines besides education loans adding financial strain.

“I had plans to study Masters in Architecture at Deakin University in Australia. I was supposed to go there soon and was waiting for my exams for undergraduate degree to be over. But now it feels like time has frozen,” Ms. Luthra told PTI.

“I had not applied for further studies in any college in India and the option of taking up a job or internship also looks a distant dream here with the economic slowdown on the doorstep once the lockdown is lifted,” she added.

Also read: Coronavirus | Stay where you are, MEA tells Indians abroad

Ms. Tara Osan, a Shri Ram School student, who wanted to study Advertising either in Italy or in Canada, believes that for students who opted for IB curriculum, studying abroad was a plan in mind since long.

“Two months back, I was elated to be counting the number of options I had but now it is a very demotivating phase. Our Class 12 exams are also suspended and will be evaluated on basis of internal assessments. So it is a feeling that lot needs to be done to get future plans in order but everything is on hold.

“Studying abroad does not look like a possible thing this year so I will now look for a plan B and start applying for colleges here,” she said.

However, for Ms. Anoushka Ray, who wanted to study Liberal Arts in New York, the plan is only deferred but not cancelled.

Also read: Coronavirus: Students to take global exams TOEFL, GRE at home

‘Long process’

“Planning to study abroad is a long process, I have invested way too much both financially as well as mentally in the process so altering an entire life plan because of the situation at the moment, does not seem to be wise decision. I will go for next session but I will go. I am reaching out to my university in New York to see if my admission can be considered for next fall,” she said.

According to Study Abroad counsellors, the situation looks grim and might affect long term plans for many.

“There are many students who have already got admission but are now reconsidering because the classes have moved online and there is no clarity by when situation will improve. So for students who actually want to live abroad, paying a hefty fees just to attended classes online does not seem to be a lucrative option,” Anupam Singha, who runs a Study Abroad consultancy firm in Delhi, told PTI.

Similar, concerns are being faced by Rahsi Makhija, a University of Liverpool student.

Also read: The promising challenge of a study abroad

” I am pursuing a master’s degree and it is just a year-long programme. While the tutorials which have been moved online, digital learning kills the purpose of studying in a foreign university and paying such a hefty fee for which I had taken an education loan. It is undue financial pressure now with no clarity on when I will be able to land a job,” Makhija said.

Providing some respite, Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had earlier this week asked U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo to extend visas of Indian students and skilled professionals stranded in the U.S. following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interviews on hold

Interviews and announcements for several fellowship opportunities are also on hold in view of the uncertainty, putting plans on hold for many, who depend on funding help for studying abroad.

However, “Chevening,” which is a prestigious international awards programme run by the U.K. government and has helped over 50,000 professionals to study in the country since 1983, is working to ensure plans are not affected.

“At this current time, we are liaising closely with local British embassies and High Commissions, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and host institutions to make arrangements for Chevening Fellowships due to commence soon.

“For applications in process, we are aware that many countries are currently in various stages of lockdown or have in place other restrictions due to coronavirus. We are working to reduce disruption to interviews as much as possible. This may mean your interview will be conducted online or by telephone. We will make every effort to ensure your interview can still take place,” the Chevening Secretariat said, in a message posted on its website.

More than 11 lakh cases of infection, including 60,457 deaths, have been reported in 190 countries and territories around the world since the virus first emerged in China in December , 2019. Italy has the highest official death toll with 14,681 fatalities. Spain follows with 11,744, the United States with 7,159, France with 6,507 and Britain with 4,313.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 7:15:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/study-abroad-dreams-shattered-or-delayed/article31263898.ece

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