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Waiting to apply to universities abroad? Here are the key questions to ask
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  • Waiting to apply to universities abroad? Here are the key questions to ask
Roshna Mohan

Roshna Mohan is a Content Writer at Hotcourses India - an IDP company. A post-graduate in Biotechnology, she chose content writing as her career out of sheer interest. Reading and cooking are her stress-busters. Talk about these to take the introvert out of the ambivert. Her all-time favourite authors are Paulo Coelho, Yuval Noah Harari and Robin Cook.


24 Jul 2020 Book icon 4 mins Share

Waiting to apply to universities abroad? Here are the key questions to ask

Applying to universities during the pandemic time may be stressful. Stay informed by asking the right questions to universities while making enquiries.

24 Jul 2020 Book icon 4 mins Share
Waiting to apply to universities abroad? Here are the key questions to ask

The coronavirus pandemic has hit everybody hard, and people are figuring out ways to keep on track during changing times. Admittedly, it may seem a bit chaotic and there are a lot of uncertainties. However, you still need information to make academic decisions, especially when you have dreamt of studying overseas for a while. Asking the right questions of your prospective university is critical. We bring you a few questions that you can ask your university while making enquiries. These questions should help you to plan and stay on track with your study abroad ambitions.

Some tips to keep in mind before we begin:

Make sure that you’re ready with your questions before you make contact with a university. Compile the questions, review them and then send them through. Try finding information from the university website. There should be an FAQ section, which may answer some of your questions. If you feel the information on the university site is outdated, you can reach out to the institution. It’s advised to only contact an institution if necessary, as they will already be fielding and responding to a huge number of queries from current and prospective students. Otherwise, you can always reach out to our counsellors who’ll be more than happy to assist you. They will have the latest information from the universities. You can also refer to our latest news page to stay updated with developments in destinations and universities. So, here are some of the questions you may want to ask a university:

1. What are the dates for future semesters?​

You need this information to make plans. Not all universities are going by their original plans, calendars and course durations. Once you have the information, you can analyse the situation in your home country and make a call on whether you want to apply or wait and apply at a later stage, once the uncertainties are closer to being resolved.

2. What is the mode of course delivery that you have opted for?

This question can go along with the previous one. Along with the semester dates, you need to know how the course or programme you want to study will be delivered. If the university is planning for online delivery, the situation in your country shouldn’t affect you. However, do keep in mind the time zone difference and technical challenges that you might face.

3. How are you planning on implementing your course mode?

If a university is following the online or the ‘online now, on campus later’ mode of delivery, you might need updated software, reliable internet connectivity and several applications on your system. Clarify these details and check whether you will be able to meet all the requirements. Better to be prepared!

Now that you have clarity on the start date and the mode of delivery and you’re are happy with the information you can move to questions on applications and entry requirements.

4. Do you offer financial aids or scholarships?

Several scholarships have been suspended indefinitely due to the unpredictable financial situation posed by the coronavirus pandemic. However, some institutions are providing financial aid and scholarships, with slightly modified requirements. Do your research and then contact the university for more clarity.

5. What is the latest update on application deadlines and entry requirements?

Application requirements are being amended by most institutions and the deadlines are being extended. Information on these will help you figure out how much time you have on your hands to get your documents ready. You might need to rely on a different or virtual English proficiency test. In addition, you might have to submit your previous exam results. Set some time aside when you plan, so that you can accommodate any requirements or unforeseen setbacks.

6. What about assistance and sponsorship for visa applications?

Most visa processing centres are closed or operating on limited resources. There is always hope that situation may get better sooner than expected and that centres will offer some services again. Several institutions are actively supporting students in getting their documents ready and helping with visa applications. You can also stay on top of things by referring to government websites or communicating with visa application centres.

The next step and questions to ask would be designed to get to know the institution better.

7. Does the university host virtual open days and tours?

There is no better way to explore the campus than through a virtual open day. It will help you get a feel of what it would be like to study there. Some institutions also arrange one-on-one sessions, webinars and other means to interact with the faculty and students. It is a great opportunity to know your university and you may don’t want to miss that.

Of course, you have to ask them how they are dealing with the pandemic.

8. How are you supporting international students in the wake of the pandemic?

University studies are not just about the academics. The campus will be your home away from home for a year or more. This question will give you an idea about how prepared the university is and whether you feel it indicates them to be a reliable and attentive institution. Most universities are trying their best to support international students. Check with them and see whether you are happy with the measures they have taken.

9. What are the health plans provided by the university?

Falling sick in a foreign country, away from your family can be stressful for many. It is important to have the assurance that you will be taken care of. Some universities offer medical insurance coverage and it will be part of the tuition fees. In most cases however students will have to get their own health insurance. Make sure to clarify this with the institution.

Now you have more of the details, but what if you have more questions in future? Confirm your preferred mode of communication.

10. Which mode of communication is preferred and used by the university?

This should also answer the question of how the university will be communicating with you. During this time when information is changing constantly, it might not be possible for them to send out emails and they might want students to check out their social media pages or any specific web pages where they post the updates. If you have any specific questions, there will be ways to raise it on various channels. You can direct it to a dedicated email address or speak to someone using a dedicated phone number? Or maybe post it on a public forum? Check these details and what works best with the university.

Don’t hesitate to contact our counsellors, who will have the latest updates, directly from the university. We wish you the best in your academic journey!

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Harjeet Kaur Harjeet Kaur,
IDP Expert
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