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EducationCovid hits students’ study abroad plans

Covid hits students’ study abroad plans

Published: 28th May 2021 12:01 am | Updated: 27th May 2021 10:32 pm

Hyderabad: The skies are still dark for several thousands of students who were dreaming of flying abroad for higher education in foreign universities. Just as Covid-19 had forced them into a quandary last year, the second wave of the pandemic has left them in uncertainty again this year.

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Students who were preparing to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate courses from various universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are in a big dilemma. Given the current scenario in the country, travel restrictions imposed by other countries and non-availability of visa appointment slots, students and their parents are a worried lot.

Apart from the temporary ban on travellers from India, consulates of various countries have also temporarily stopped processing and issuing visas. Only some consulates like that of the United States are issuing emergency F1 visas to students, that too based on stringent conditions. Though several students have already received their i20 from their respective university confirming their admission for the August/September session, students are unable to book visa slots.

“Since the last one and a half year, I have been planning for higher education in the US but the pandemic has delayed my admission process. Now, when I got the i20 from the university, there is no visa booking slots available. I open the website daily hoping to book a visa interview slot but in vain,” says Srikanth, who got an admission letter for MS Computer Science at the Texas A&M University-Commerce, US.

A US education expert described the current situation as a rather confusing one for the students. “Several students have already got their admission confirmed from US universities. Due to the second wave, consulates have temporarily closed their services. One cannot say when the pandemic will subside or when visa services will resume or when will flights to other countries resume from India,” he said.

Several students who got admissions last year had to defer them from the August/September session to January 2021 due to the pandemic. If the current situation continues, students may be forced to again postpone their classwork until the next session. This apart, the lockdown has made the process of applying for foreign universities and getting admissions a cumbersome task. With educational institutions closed until further orders, students are finding it difficult to get certificates and required letters from the university and colleges.

“I require letters of recommendation from my faculty. Due to the lockdown, I cannot go out and my admission is getting delayed,” says Karthik, who is planning for MS in Data Science.

Universities toughen measures

Hyderabad: Foreign universities are not taking any risks while dealing with Covid-19. Students moving to the campuses of some US universities are reportedly asked to get at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization.

When the pandemic began, foreign universities had stopped their in-person classes and switched over to remote learning. Now, the universities are asking the students who are on the campus to attend in-person classes or campus accommodation in the upcoming fall session to get vaccinated. Some varsities have also made a 14-day quarantine mandatory for foreign students.

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