The coronavirus pandemic last year forced a lot of students to defer their plans to study abroad. Experts now say that it’s going to be tough this year as well to get a seat in foreign universities, as those who could not make it last year will apply in 2021 along with fresh applicants.
A survey by Study Group – an international education provider – states that 75 per cent of prospective students intended to start their overseas study programme in 2021. It also claims that one in five students who did not join their offer in the second half of 2020 is planning to reapply in near future.
Many countries, including one of the top destinations – the UK – have offered post-study work visas which are attracting many Indian students. Several top-ranked universities are also offering relaxations to international students including waiving off of exams like SAT and admissions based on provisional scores. This too is expected to boost the number of applications.
Indian students are also considering applying in foreign countries in search of better income opportunities to ride the Covid-led slump in the local job market. Edtech platform Galvanize Test Prep revealed in a report that students consider earning a postgraduate degree (MS/MBA/PhD) abroad at this time as “a good way to ride out the current recession, and learn valuable skills for future careers”.
This, as per the report, is in direct contrast to the early days of Covid-19 when students were leaning towards staying back in India and look for jobs here after finishing their undergraduate degree.
MBAs, data science courses toughest to get into
As a result of a higher number of applications, the acceptance letters can take a longer time than usual. Further, the top choices including MBAs, data science, finance courses etc will be the toughest to get into, claims Akshay Chaturvedi, founder of Leverage Edu – a university admissions and career guidance firm.
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“With more number of applications, the mainstream courses which remain hot picks like MBA degrees, data science courses, digital marketing etc will be filled in fast. This will give a rise of alternative destinations as well a rise in applications for humanities and offbeat streams where students would follow their passions like music, wine tasting and food technology, luxury management, psychology etc,” he said adding that lesser picked nations will also get more traction.
“Before applying, students need to have clarity about what they want to do. It is more important to choose a course first and then a country. This year, they do not have the liberty of getting entry to a college and then figuring it out later. It would be better if they apply sooner rather than waiting till July-August to apply,” Chaturvedi said.
Remote learning, additional admission cycle to allow more intake
Yocket, another study abroad platform has seen an uptick of about 20 per cent pre-pandemic levels. Sumeet Jain, co-founder of the platform said this is an opportunity for students. “I would suggest that this is a good time for the students to apply. By the time they graduate, the economy will be back and booming. Many universities have waived off GRE/GMAT so that reduces the process for students. Waiting longer would add the test requirements. Even if the competition is sure to increase, this still is a very good time to apply.”
“Universities will take a larger intake. Many students across universities and nations will continue with the hybrid model which can allow a bigger intake. Further, apart from the usual September and November application seasons newer intakes in form of June-July season. Students need to be more focused and apply for a range of universities and courses to increase their changes,” he said.
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Many experts believe that the hybrid model is likely to stay. Manoj Shetty, Chief Revenue Officer, Study Group said, even as Indian students prefer to study abroad, on-campus, they are willing to consider online and blended learning options. Trends show that online learning is here to stay, at least as an option.
Concerns about the quality of online learning experiences, however, still remains from both an educational and social point of view. Institutions must effectively facilitate virtual international student interaction, he added.
Would a delay in academic calendar impact students?
Yusuf Abdul-Kareem, vice president of Emerging Markets, Law School Admission Council said, “While the pandemic has disrupted so many aspects of the academic calendar in India, students have worked hard to try to stay focused on their goals, and schools have shown a lot of flexibility and resilience in moving forward under incredibly difficult circumstances.”
Since the Covid crisis has impacted the entire world, the universities are aware of the issue and are accepting professional scores. Further, several entry relaxations have been enabled. LSAT too was moved online because of the pandemic and has not seen any decline so far.
“Schools are working hard to maintain exceptional international opportunities and to do so in a safe and appropriate manner given the ongoing public health concerns. Every student will need to make their own decisions about when the time is right to pursue study abroad, but we strongly encourage students to continue to pursue their international legal education goals as the opportunities are enormous and will only increase over time,” he added.