Travel limitations, quarantine costs, and mental distress are just a few of the hurdles experienced by students wishing to study abroad this year during the second Covid wave. Many people are breathing a sigh of relief now that numerous state governments are prioritising vaccination so that youngsters can return to school in September. What students can expect is as follows:
On April 30, US President Joe Biden signed a proclamation prohibiting non-immigrant travelers from entering the country. On May 4, the declaration came into effect. The United States has issued a travel warning to its people, advising them not to travel to India.
Exceptions have been made, though. If students’ academic program, including optional practical training (OPT), begins on August 1 or later, students from various countries, including India, can apply for a National Interest Exception. They will be automatically considered for the exception if their visa applications qualify them in either category. Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas can enter the United States 30 days before the start of their program.
All passenger flights from India and Pakistan have been temporarily suspended by the Canadian government. The prohibition will last until June 21. A Covid-19 pre-departure test from a third country is required for those departing India and traveling to Canada via an indirect route. In India, the Canadian visa processing centers will remain closed.
While flights between India and the United Kingdom are not prohibited, only individuals with the legal right to live and study in England will be permitted entry. Before traveling to the United Kingdom, Indian students must obtain a Biometric Residence Permit. India has been added to England’s travel ban red list, requiring visitors to spend ten days in quarantine at their own expense at a government-approved hotel. The borders between Australia and New Zealand remain closed for everyone.
Pragati Agarwal, a Kolkata resident, had pushed back her master’s admission to the University of Glasgow from 2020 to January 2021. Despite the fact that she could fly to the United Kingdom, she was unsure whether it would be cost-effective to pay living expenses simply to complete her studies online. Going overseas, she explained, is also about gaining exposure. She ultimately decided against it and postponed her ambitions to study abroad for the time being.
Another student, who did not want her name used, claimed she did her entire first semester this year online. She is pursuing a master’s degree in biotechnology at an Australian university. She hopes to travel to Australia next year after completing her master’s degree in two years and a semester that involves practical applications.
Subodh Mandal, a Faridabad resident, is aiming to visit Canada this year. He has been accepted to a college in Ontario to study computer system networking. He is concerned, however, about the time interval between the first and second doses. He received his first vaccination on May 4 and will have to wait another 12-16 weeks for the second. Even if Canada accepts fully vaccinated students after June 21, he is concerned about his ability to make it, as he may not be fully immunised until vaccination standards are relaxed.
Students have had it particularly difficult on two fronts, according to Lakshmi Iyer, executive director of education at Sannam S4, a New Delhi-based educational consultant organisation that supports global university operations.
One, the cancellation of tests has become a significant barrier for students intending to pursue undergraduate courses at universities outside of their home country. Many students are concerned about how they will meet the application criteria because there is no system in place to grade them. Will India be able to accommodate these many school graduates if they are unable to go a university abroad? The backlog of visa applications is also a cause of concern, as continuously changing restrictions mean that students must wait longer for clearance.
The biggest source of concern, however, is for those traveling overseas to get a master’s degree, as they account for roughly 85% of individuals leaving India. Several master’s students have either canceled their plans or are sitting in limbo because of the heavy emphasis on return on investment in education.
The impact of delayed exam results on students’ careers was the top question asked by the employees in an internal survey done by the organisation as of May 30. The obstacles are unlike anything else, according to Iyer, because there are so many unknowns and a lack of planning.
Aaditya Thackeray, a Maharashtra cabinet minister, was the first to announce that students with international admissions will be vaccinated for free at specific locations on specific dates. He also stated that the state was investigating the possibility of shortening the time between the first and second doses.
Following the declaration, various state governments—including Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat—have made arrangements for priority vaccination for this group. Kerala is the only state that allows kids to receive their second dose four to six weeks after receiving the first.
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