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COVID-19 and studying abroad - are you looking for answers?
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.


12 Jun 2020 105 Book icon 5 mins Share

COVID-19 and studying abroad - are you looking for answers?

Have you been looking for the best advice and information about studying abroad in the context of the coronavirus pandemic?

12 Jun 2020 105 Book icon 5 mins Share
COVID-19 and studying abroad - are you looking for answers?

These are unprecedented time and you may have many questions about beginning your studies abroad. We asked our experts some of your frequently asked questions to get the best answers and inside information. 

I am unable to take my final year high school examinations. Will I still be able to go abroad for studies?

Universities understand the situation around the world and are ready to consider alternate qualification documents, tentative or indicative results to make admission decisions. There is no unified approach or policy for all the universities. You can contact our experts who have the latest information on admission procedures and requirements for different destinations. You can also contact the admissions teams at the universities you are considering for higher studies. 

I hold a visa to study abroad and was planning to travel soon. What should my next steps be?

Stringent restrictions are in place in most of the countries and hence travelling now might not be possible. Update yourself about the international travel rules that apply to the country you’re aiming to study in. Currently, only evacuation flights are allowed in India. Since most of the universities are offering online learning, you might be able to begin your studies without going to the destination country. The ‘online now, on-campus later’ is a model that is gaining popularity. Check with your university whether they are following this model for course delivery. 

I would like to cancel my visa application. How can I do this?

If you have applied for a UK visa, you can contact the UK visas and Immigration Department for guidance on how to cancel the application. All routine immigrant and non-immigrant U.S. visa appointments will remain cancelled until further notice. Once regular consular operations resume, you will be able to reschedule. If you would like to cancel the visa application to Canada, you can do so by submitting a web form.  Australian visa applications can be withdrawn by completing Form 1446 and emailing it to the place processing your application.

Test centers are closed, and I am unable to take an English language test. Will I be able to go abroad to study?

Countries and universities are coming up with alternate measures to deal with this situation. Some institutions have come up with online modes of testing which a lot of universities are accepting. For more details on this, you can refer to our question on English proficiency tests. Be sure to confirm with your university before registering for the tests.  

My course is due to begin in autumn 2020. what will happen if I am unable to travel at that time?

At the moment, it is difficult to predict how the situation would be in autumn. Most universities are preparing themselves and adjusting their programmes according to government and public health advice. International students are very valuable for the universities and their interests will be kept in mind as the institutions make decisions. A few of them have announced that their courses will be delivered online. A few others will be following the ‘Online now, on-campus later’ model for course delivery where the course will begin online and transition to face-to-face training once the situations are favourable. Our advice to you is to contact the institutions and get the latest updates from them so that you can make the call.   

We have very little clarity on how the future semesters will be structured or started. Is it a good idea to apply right now?

The short answer, is yes, it’s the right time to apply. Universities will have a set timeline for intake, and it is advised that you apply as per the timeline. Reach out to our study abroad experts who can help you with your queries and also give tips and advice. Most of the universities abroad are extending the application deadlines and relaxing some entry requirements. You should always apply as per the timeline set for each intake and secure an offer. After that, you just need to wait for the visa application centers to open so that you can be at the front of the queue to submit your application.  If you don’t like the idea of beginning your classes online, you might have the option to defer to 2021. You can discuss your options with our counsellors before making a decision. 

When will the visa centers open? Once they open, how will the pandemic situation impact my visa success rate? 

Countries and their visa application centers have not given a definite timeline as to when it will reopen and function again. The best thing to do would be to be ready to apply with all the necessary documents. There is no clarity as to whether any additional parameters will be considered before granting visas to students. However, if your profile, funds and course relevancy are in order, getting a visa shouldn’t be difficult.

Universities are suggesting online classes. Should I go for it?

Online classes come with their share of benefits. It is a time and cost saver, to begin with. Also, most classes will be recorded which will give you an opportunity to replay and take notes or re-watch if necessary. However, making connections and building friendships will require a conscious effort from your end.  In line with ‘online now and on-campus later’ model, you can switch to an on-campus mode of learning as soon as the situations are favourable. Also, make sure that hurdles like, the difference in the time zones and the technical requirements are not too hard to overcome. 

Which English proficiency test should I go for?

TOEFL has launched TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition Test and some universities in the U.S. are accepting this. The Duolingo English Test is also accepted as an alternative test for proof of English proficiency. In Canada, individual universities and colleges have their own policies with regard to English language proficiency. Some of the English language tests accepted by different Canadian universities are Duolingo English Test, Versant offered by Pearson, TOEFL Special Home Edition iBT and the IELTS Indicator test . Please check with your university before registering for any of the tests. Under certain circumstances, sponsors who are higher education providers, are allowed to self-assess the English language level of students applying to UK universities. 

Even if I am able to go for my course, will it be safe in a foreign country?  

The pandemic has affected almost all the countries in the world. No matter which country you go to, you should ensure that you adhere to the public health advice, government guidelines and follow the instructions from the World Health Organisation to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Please refer to the government websites for latest updates from each country, including the UK, USA, New Zealand, and Australia.

Once border restrictions are lifted, countries will want international arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days. What will be the implication for international students?

The UK has already implemented this rule and it does not exempt international students. You will be asked to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. You might have to provide your journey information and contact details and you might not be allowed to leave your place of residence for the following 14 days. If this is the case, it is important that you contact your institution and discuss the options available and the support you would receive during the 14-days. Also, keep in mind that you will not be able to attend classes during your period of self-isolation. However, some universities are planning to provide online induction, orientation and plan for you to meet tutors virtually. It is important for the institutions to know your quarantine plans so that they can assist in the best possible way.

We are getting better at dealing with the pandemic and there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Hold on to your dreams!

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Indrani Sinha Indrani Sinha,
IDP Expert
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