November 29, 2023

Planning for overseas education during Covid-19? Here’s how to prepare

It is important for applicants to stay alert, watch the situation, analyze their options, and most importantly, utilize this time to stay up to date with your preparation.

— Written by Ramananda SG

The COVID-19 pandemic had halted the study abroad plans of students across the world due to the border restrictions and lockdowns across countries. Now, more than six months into the pandemic, the world is still grappling with it. This might have delayed the study plans for many aspirants. A recent QS survey revealed that out of 14,416 prospective international students, over 90 per cent of those intending to study at a foreign university is still planning to study abroad.

The data shows that any potential drop in international student enrollments is likely to be temporary: only one in 10 survey respondents say that they do not intend to pursue international education at all. This, in turn, has created a need for students to stay on track of their preparation and keep themselves updated on the relevant information and details while applying to study abroad.

If you are one of the students planning to study abroad, here are some things you should be clear about before applying

Know the application process: If you have decided to study abroad this year, you should continue with your application process if it has commenced. Usually, in most foreign universities, the session starts during September-October. Some of the important immediate steps that students should take for their application and visa process and some of the guidelines they should keep in mind while applying to a university are listed below. Students need to ensure that they comply with all the necessary documentation required by the border agencies of various countries (DHA in the case of Australia and IRCC in case of Canada), such as –

— They need to take their required language exam and assign their score report to the educational institution and border agency as required. Students to ensure that their language scores requirements are met as per the university/college norms as well as border agency norms if any. Students to also ensure that their accounts with the testing agency are active and scores accessible before submitting visa applications.

— They need to complete their paperwork (such as SOPs, educational documents, financial proofs and identity documents, etc) before submitting their visa application to the VFS of various countries

— Their knowledge of the educational institution of choice as well as the course they have selected should be adequate. They should be able to justify their institute/course selection in their SOP to the border agency as well as the institute itself as required.

— They should keep their finances ready as per the requirements of the border agency (for example students need to purchase GIC {Guaranteed Investment Certificate} in case of SDS applications to Canada) and should have paid the requisite course/living expenses fees as required by the educational institution.

— Students should go through the university/college website and comply with all requirements. Similarly, students should go through the border agency requirements of specific countries and comply. In case of doubts, it is advisable to seek expert consultation.

— Students should ensure that there is no misrepresentation of facts in their applications which may lead to their entry to the country being blocked.

Keep your preparation on track through digital platforms: Due to nationwide lockdown and social distancing norms, the challenge of not being able to attend their classes and prepare for their English language exam has been faced by both, the students and institutes. Now is the best time to prepare for one’s test, there are a dire need and demand by institutes and students for online resources, which can help them with high-stakes English exam preparation and enable them to stay ahead of their preparation anytime, from anywhere.

Right now, as the world slowly opens up the travel restrictions and eases back to normalcy, it is critical for learners who aspire to continue their education abroad to stay calm and do not panic. According to authorities, international travel and visa processing activities are already set to resume in the country and it will be good to see which countries are the focus and preferred destinations for people to study or work abroad in the post-pandemic world. Till then, wait it is important for applicants to stay alert, watch the situation, analyze their options, and most importantly, utilize this time to stay up to date with your preparation.

— The author is vice-president, sales and marketing, Pearson India


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