KOCHI: June and July are busy months for overseas education consultants as every year hundreds of students approach them to pursue their dream to study abroad. India and China are the two countries which send the highest number of students overseas.
But the picture is not the same this year and thousands of students studying in foreign university are worried over the uncertainty over completing the course. Both the enrolled students and those who want to join foreign campuses are equally worried over the escalating graph of coronavirus transmission, restrictions on international flight service and decreasing job opportunities.
Several foreign universities sent students back home, while classes have now been switched to online. Though colleges have resumed virtual sessions, many students and parents are not satisfied with digital classes.
“Most of us have chosen a foreign institution for higher studies to have an experience of the campuses, culture and social life. Many of us also want to work and settle in these countries. Spending several lakhs just to attend the online class is unfair. The universities are not willing to reduce the tuition fee. The fee paid is for accessing other facilities in the campus like library, lab and other services. Since the services are unavailable, it is unfair to ask students to pay full fee,” said Midhun Thomas, a student in Australia.
Those who decided to stay back in foreign countries are finding it tough to pay for accommodation and other utilities as most of them lost part-time job. Since uncertainty prevails around when the universities would reopen, both the students and their families are in a fix.
There are also reports that few Chinese universities/colleges have asked final year students not to return to the campus. They will not be given student visas and if required they can come on a visiting visa once the pandemic situation improves. There are complaints that some students are not getting digital classes regularly and the universities are not responding.
“Yearly examinations have started which are being invigilated in a very strict manner using cameras and other devices. We have been asked not to come to the campus for the time being as there is no let up in virus transmission globally. And in China, new cases are being reported now. Hence the graduation ceremony of final year students is conducted online in many colleges. In my university, there is no restriction for students to come back once the situation improves. They have also promised to refund the fee paid for accommodation and other facilities,” said an MBBS student from Ernakulam, studying in Xinjiang Medical University, China.
Meanwhile, several universities and colleges in US, Canada and European countries have adapted wisely to the adverse situation because they knew that international students are really important for them. Drop in overseas students, who pay higher fees, means big loss for educational institutions.
“Colleges/universities have started online classes even for the last intake batch of students. They have been given the option to complete the first year/first semester from their home and return to the college when the situation is back to normal. But, the online classes are bit difficult for beginners as the foreign education system is different,” said Jayesh Jacob of Royalae World, education and career services.
“No university or college in Western countries have denied permission for students to come back once the restrictions are lifted,” he added.
According to the data released by the Ministry of External Affairs in July 2019, more than 7.5 lakh Indian students are studying overseas....