Overseas education is an aspiration for many Indian learners wanting to pursue a career backed with global exposure in a field of their choice. However, as appealing as it is to gain admission to the top universities across the globe, it is a challenge for Indian students, especially owing to the current times we live in.
Omicron, the new highly-mutated variant of COVID-19, is negatively impacting overseas education.
Per the Ministry of External Affairs in India, only 2.6 lakh students opted for international education in 2020 compared to 5.9 lakhs in 2019. This means a decline of 55% in international learners.
How governments worldwide are reacting?
Thanks to Omicron, the Indian government has announced that regular commercial international flights will not be operational until January 31, 2022.
According to the US Transportation Security Administration, there has been a 16% decrease in passengers going through their airports. The UK, which was a major overseas study destination in 2021, is suffering from 90,000 cases daily, out of which more than 10,000+ are Omicron cases.
Campus closures are imminent due to travel restrictions. As a result, students are looking to change/cancel their international education plans. Higher education institutions of major destinations like the UK, Australia, and the US anticipate a significant decrease in international students for the upcoming semesters.
The Indian government, as well as governments worldwide, are conducting robust vaccination drives in order to deal with this new variant and its effect efficiently.
Since last year, India has crossed the billion mark in terms of COVID vaccines. Apart from the two jabs in India, students can also opt for booster shots if/when they decide to go abroad.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a new protocol. International students going to the UK, aside from their two doses of the vaccine, will receive a booster shot. Booster shots can be accessed by people at walk-in centers easily. A new study showed that booster shots could be pretty effective against the Omicron variant of the virus.
Borders of multiple countries closing means learners have to face severe consequences. They have to deal with reduced flight frequency, quarantine rules, visa approval latency, as well as various other restrictions. This has made sustaining themselves abroad more difficult than usual, causing their overall expense to go up.
In anticipation of joining universities overseas, many students have quit their jobs and are left with no option. According to a recent study, 40% of students have lost their job offers or internships, while 13% of students have delayed their graduation owing to the current situation.
Given the prevalent uncertainties due to Omicron, learners right now can opt for online courses (like learning a foreign language) that would best prepare them for international exposure when the time is right. Students can take this opportunity to stay where they are and enjoy the benefits and flexibility of education at home without having to face financial burdens or the hassles of travel restrictions.
Moreover, working professionals too can follow the approach and manage work and study simultaneously without incurring a loss of pay.
Online courses are not only cost-effective, but also offer instant access to quality resources, innovative curricula, and industry expertise that will enable students with hands-on skills.
Furthermore, learners can interact and network with their peers, allowing them to improve their communication skills and providing a more well-rounded university experience.
This can be an exciting opportunity for aspiring learners. As governments and institutions are figuring out things to achieve normalcy, students can indeed look into online courses to boost their academic and career goals amid the ongoing pandemic.