For those who thought the Covid-19 pandemic was the end of their dreams of studying in the United States, here’s good news. All is not lost. Not yet.
Universities in the US are in fact seeing an increase in enrolment applications from India for fall semester (August 2021). In this backdrop, we take you through the most popular courses on American campuses, how US universities are planning classwork during the pandemic, the changes in scores and admission requirements in the light of Covid-19, the changes in fee structures on account of the pandemic and yes, all the Covid-19 precautions on campus.
Top US universities along with US government officials share with Telangana Today’s readers the pandemic scenario in their institutions, about new proficiency tests and also the financial aspects and each and every step of applying at a US higher education institution.
University of Houston-Victoria
Q Given the Covid-19 pandemic situation, how is the response from Indian students for admissions in the US universities.
The responses from Indian students are slower compared with when we visit India for Education fairs. However, the number of Indian students completing the application to enrol at US institutions seems to be quite steady. This also is true for Indian students in other visa categories. We have a large H-1B population from India in the Houston area. The students starting new programmes remain consistent. Both H-1B visa holders and H4 visa dependents are attending campus to further their education. I also have seen students who returned to India after completing their master’s programmes in the US re-apply for new academic programmes to improve their chances of securing manager or director positions. This includes engineering students applying to the US to complete their MBA programmes. This may be unique to UHV because of the two kinds of MBA programmes we are offering (Strategic and Global MBAs).
Q. What are the courses (undergraduate and graduate) which are students mostly looking for?
All STEM and MBA programmes. Students from India are predominately engineering students seeking engineering undergraduate and graduate programmes. We are seeing a large number of engineering graduate students applying and enrolling at UHV for degrees in computer information systems, computer science and digital gaming. The word is out among Indian students that diversifying their academic credentials is providing them with better opportunities in the global job market. However, we also are seeing an increase in students (female) enrolling in psychology programmes (undergraduate and graduate).
Q. How the university is planning for the classwork in this pandemic situation?
When the pandemic started, our university closed in March. Faculty took an extended spring break to change their classes to online, and we waived some student-related fees. In the fall, our university opened its doors to all students who wished to be on campus and continue their education face to face. On-campus housing is at 50 per cent capacity. All of our new international students arrived to campus once they secured their US visas. As far as courses, we moved to offer them face to face, hybrid and online. This spring semester 3.9 per cent of our students are international students. Courses with labs were adjusted to meet the CDC guidelines. The university formed a Covid-19 Task Force.
Q. In view of the Covid-19, is the university offering relaxation in terms of GRE score or in the Standardised English testing exam?
We relaxed on standardised testing even before the pandemic. For the English proficiency requirement, we implemented Duolingo, a new English proficiency test that allows students to complete the test from the comfort of their own home. This suit us really well since students are at home during the pandemic. The test is much more affordable and practical than TOEFL/IELTS. TOEFL/IELTS was offering very limited interactions to university administrators.
Q. Is there a reduction in the course fee for students for this year and next spring session? Any scholarships offered to the students?
At UHV, we did reduce certain tuition and fees for students and offer Covid-19 related scholarships for all students. The UHV is listed as the fifth most affordable public university in Texas. We offer scholarships ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 to international students as well as graduate assistantships for students in computer science, computer information systems, biomedical sciences and MBA programmes ranging up to $12,000.
Q. In the present Covid-19 crisis, can students simultaneously study and work on the university campus?
Absolutely. Our students are working remotely and on campus. Our graduate students have successfully secured graduate assistantship positions not only in the STEM field but also in the business field. International Programs also hires a few international students to assist other international students. A few departments that have hired our international students are Admissions, Student Success, Career Services, Dining, Residential Life and Marketing & Communications.
Q. Precautions by the university against the Covid-19 on the campus?
We are taking precautions in accordance with CDC guidelines. Sanitising and temperature stations are at the entrance of each building and plexy shields placed around desks and faculty and staff is equipped with gloves, masks, face shields and hand sanitiser. In International Programs, we provide airport shuttle and grocery services for our students. If students are living on campus, UHV housing and dining does a fantastic job in maintaining quarantining services. International students arriving to campus from outside the US must quarantine for 14 days.
Q. Are there any special offers to attract Indian students to the University?
Our STEM programme itself is the main reason students from India are attracted to UHV. We provide students with internship experiences, and we have workshops encouraging students to take advantage of the internship opportunities. Our Victoria and Houston/ Katy areas have large populations of Indian community members. The Victoria Indian community has their own WhatsApp group that keeps everyone connected.
Director, International Programs
Senior International Officer (SIO)
University of Houston-Victoria
(Tomorrow: Iowa State University explains the courses popular with students and Covid-19 precuations on the campus.)
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