In this situation of a global pandemic where the students doubt to take the off-campus online courses, the foreign universities, in return, are attracting the Indian students with schemes like Fee Waives, IELTS Relaxation, and option to join on-campus once the situation normalizes. However, the question arises whether it is wise for the Indian students to take up the courses abroad this semester?
Cancel, Defer or Compromise
According to the recent report by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), due to the widespread of COVID-19 across the globe, about 48% of Indian students who were planning to study abroad have changed their minds because education abroad is expensive and the current situation does not promise wide options for jobs.
However, the ones who are still interested in studying abroad are divided into two categories. The one’s planning to defer their semester/ year and join from the next when the situation relatively normalizes. While the other category students want to opt for the online semester until the situation normalizes and later go on-campus. Although studying online can save expenses like travel and living costs, but it is a significant compromise of the on-campus experience for which studying abroad is known for.
Current Situation and Actions of Universities Abroad
Currently, most universities abroad are conducting online courses for the current and upcoming batches, i.e., the Spring and Fall ’20 batches. It is expected to start the on-campus curriculum from Spring 2021. However, there is no such guarantee given by the universities keeping in mind the uncertain situation.
Since a lot of students have seemed to withdraw their admissions for the Fall 20 batches, the universities ate offering several relaxations in terms of fee-waivers, accepting English proficiency certificates beyond TOEFL and IELTS, and admissions based on provisional degree, just to increase the enrolments of students for the said batch.
Let us discuss norms made by some of the countries popular for study abroad:
Australia – Providing Fee-Waivers
Many universities in Australia are coming with substantial fee waivers and monetary support for students applying for this semester. Many renowned universities are also offering secure exit options where the students can claim their refund if they choose to opt-out of the course. In return, they need to enroll in another within a year from the date of deferment.
The Deakin University has also announced support of up to AUD 25 million for international students who might be facing hardships due to COVID-19. The students pursuing the online course have a lot of doubts regarding the relevancy of their education and degree to which Ravneet Pahwa, Global Deputy Vice President (Global) and CEO (South Asia) of the Deakin University said that the online degree would carry the same weightage as the on-campus degree does. She clarified that when the students accept the offer for the online studies, a Confirmation of Enrolment ( COE ) will be provided for student visa purposes, which remain valid for both on-campus and off-campus enrolments.
The Macquarie University is offering full-time courses like MBA, Bachelor of Arts digitally via Coursera and Open Universities Australia platforms. It is offering scholarships of up to 25% of the Fee for the entire course.
LaTrobe University is offering scholarships of up to 30% of the tuition fee for the entire course. It has also announced support of up to AUD 6.8 million for international students who might be facing hardships due to COVID-19.
United Kingdom – Offering Provisional Admissions
The United Kingdom (UK) based universities are also offering several relaxations and adjustments for students who have delayed results, or one’s who are otherwise affected. The universities are also providing counseling to the students.
The University of Portsmouth, a public institute in the UK, offers about £1,600 to £5,000 to Indian students. The university is also offering its most popular course MA International Relations through online mode. Due to students’ inability to appearing IELTS, Portsmouth is considering other online English proficiency tests as well. The university has also arranged counselors for addressing any queries regarding the online admission faced by the applicants.
United States – Providing Career Support
The University of South California, Viterbi School of Engineering, which is known for offering an online learning environment since 1971, is providing more than 40 graduate degree programs in this hybrid mode, out of which the most popular is the computer science program. The dean of the school ensures that the digital classes do not lack any exposure, and the university offers all forms of diversity in ideas. The university is offering the iPodia program since 2009, in which BITS Pilani from India has also participated. This is a program that combines the classrooms of top universities across the world.
Spain – Virtual Tours
Les Roches Marbella, Spain, comes out to be very innovative and has created an on-campus digital experience through virtual reality for the students to visit the campus digitally during their online studies. This ensures that they can have campus experience even while they are studying off-campus, and they do not feel cut out from the on-campus experiences until the time they are unable to access the same.
The universities all across the globe are implementing the best possible alternatives for the students to attract them for admissions. They are implementing varied programs that help the students prepare for a world post-COVID-19.