New Delhi: Indian students who were set to move abroad for higher studies, with admission offers at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, are now staring at an uncertain academic future amid a state of lockdown in several countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Education consultants told ThePrint that none of the students who have received offers from universities abroad have decided against going so far, but many are looking at Indian options simultaneously, especially at the undergraduate level.
Ambika Kaul, education advisor and incharge international admissions, Delhi Public School RK Puram said, “Most parents are standing firm over their country of choice. Some might consider looking at India simultaneously but even entrance schedules for exams in India are unclear at this moment.”
Universities abroad have also communicated to students to be be prepared for a more flexible academic calendar.
What the students say
Nikita Tyagi, a student from a private school in Delhi who has an offer from Trinity College of Arts and Science, Durham, said, “There is a lot of uncertainty right now, even though I have an offer in hand, I want to keep a backup ready. I am applying for Indian universities as well, wherever admissions are open right now.
“Although, most universities across the world have asked students to be prepared for a flexible academic schedule, I would still not like to take a chance,” she added.
Tara Osan, another student who had many international offers for undergraduate studies, is reconsidering her options now.
“There is so much uncertainty right now, our Class 12 board exams are also stuck. I don’t know what will happen in the future, which is why I am keeping a plan B ready. I will apply to Indian colleges as well, in case studying abroad does not happen,” said Osan.
Kushal, who has offers from University of Ottawa and University of Waterloo in Canada for M.Sc. said, “Classes begin in September, so I am just waiting to see how the situation unfolds.
“Once the visa office opens I will see if the embassy is issuing student visas, if not then the university has given us two options — to either delay the joining by a semester, instead of the fall semester in September, they have given us the option of joining in winter semester, or to take online classes. I would rather choose to delay by one semester instead of taking online classes, if the situation does not improve,” said the student from Kolkata.
Mrinal Singh, education consultant at Delhi-based consultancy firm Prem N. Kapur Associates said, “Most of the students, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level are continuing with their admission offers because they know what they exactly want to do.
“If someone is looking at an Art and Design course, they know where exactly they want to pursue it from and same goes for other courses. There is, however, a bunch of students who are re-considering the option of going abroad, they are looking at options locally now,” said Singh.
What the universities say
Meanwhile, universities across the world have asked students to stay in touch with them and monitor regular updates.
Cambridge Assessment International Education, a body that works in the field of international education across North America, UK, Europe and Southeast Asia and other regions has compiled responses from various universities across the region. The response has been shared with schools and admission counsellors.
According to a copy of the response accessed by ThePrint, most of the universities are trying to make arrangements to accommodate students through a flexible academic calendar.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and looking at flexing deadlines for meeting offer conditions if that becomes necessary,” said the University College of London.
The University of Oxford has asked all offer holders to inform the institution about their health. “If any offer holder is unsuccessful in meeting the conditions of their offer from Oxford, their college would consider whether or not to confirm that student’s place,” Oxford has said in a statement.
The UK is in a state of complete lockdown, grappling with a severe outbreak of Covid-19.
Universities in the US and Canada, both countries in a state of partial lockdown, are trying to work on their virtual presence and extending the deadlines for joining.
University of Ottawa in Canada has written to its students saying, “Please communicate with us before September if you are unable to get your study permit. We will consider deferring your offer for the next available intake.”