- Sakal India Foundation
- April 1, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has put every Indian student’s plan to study abroad on hold.
Last year, in the middle of surges of Covid-19 cases, the government of Canada issued 9,147 new study permits to Indian students between January and June 2020. That is just 8.4% of the total study permits issued by Canada in 2019.
Australian universities also fell by more than 80% in the second half of 2020 in the number of new Indian students.
The effect of the Covid-19 crisis on international and Indian students mobility has been estimated to be significant. But the impact of border closures has proved to be even more devastating for international universities across the world. Even if the international borders were to open, it is not clear that students will return to the same places they were at before the pandemic. It might take some time for those students to come back and enrol.
The impact of ongoing international border closures has proved disastrous for international universities, especially in Australian. There is a huge decrease in the numbers of students registering their interest to study in Australia from India, Nepal and Bangladesh. South Asian students are now opting for universities in the UK and Canada.
When the SARS-CoV-2 virus hit the world, international universities worldwide had to rapidly shift to virtual education to ensure student’s personal safety. From February 2020 onwards, several countries issued international travel bans. Embassies & consulate services were limited only to critical services, and visa facilitation Services were also closed due to the travel ban. This Pandemic situation drastically affected students and made many of them reconsider their choice of study destinations for overseas education.
There is a general perception by Indian students looking to study abroad that life overseas in developed countries must be better than life in India. However, living in a foreign country has its problems – different food, loneliness, being cut off from family, friends, and your culture in a strange land with different customs and rituals. For example, an overcrowded health system does make a person who goes into the emergency ward of a public hospital wait for hours before he/she gets treated and so on unless there is an immediate life-threatening situation.
All the factors can combine at times to make life difficult for students pursuing education overseas. Keeping in mind all these factors, students who are planning to choose a study destination must do thorough research to ensure the kind of life they want in that country and enjoy a positive experience of studying and living, as indeed most Indian students do.
Through the Sakal Media Network, we managed to get an interview with a student Aniruddha Apte who went to Australia to pursue his bachelor’s degree. His story will give you the actual ground reality of students studying in Australia. So if you are planning to study in Australia in this pandemic situation, you must go through Aniruddha’s story of loneliness & forbearance.
It was March of 2020 that I flew to Melbourne with my family to pursue my bachelor’s degree. Barley five days into college, and a lockdown announced by the Australian government. Parents had fortunately left for India by then. However, my life completely changed. It was a roller coaster ride all the way. Most of my friends took the Vande Bharat flights back to India, but I somehow decided against it. I had decided to pull along and take on to the challenge. The first few days were very difficult as studies were entirely online, so there was no physical communication with anybody. The Australian lockdown was very strict, and we were allowed to step out only if it was necessary. The food was never a problem as the university used to host meal schemes for stranded students. We also had mentors who helped us online. Since the campus was far from the city, I would tend to get lonely in the evenings as very few students left on campuses. However, I eventually got used to it. One thing I noticed and was impressed with was the fact that the civilians stuck to the rules laid down by the government. It was difficult to see one without a mask on the streets, people also followed minimum social contact, and we were not allowed to go to any suburb beyond 5KM. In the beginning, there were thousands of cases, and gradually the cases began to come down. Eventually, we could form bubbles with families as the restrictions eased in Melbourne. And this is how with stringent rules and cooperation from the citizens, Melbourne finally came down to zero cases.