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Education abroad in 2021, COVID-19 and its implications

April 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by a storm and has created a gloomy environment with clouds of doubt, anxiety, and uncertainty. The pandemic has affected several fields, jobs and most of all, education. With the world at a standstill, Education abroad at various destinations almost suddenly stopped. With a protocol for precautions, many countries sealed their borders and suspended flights across the globe.

International students, who had initially decided to study abroad during 2020, had no other option, but to either defer their admission or switch to online courses. We, at Edwise, as India's Leading Overseas Education Consultants, are helping students achieve their study abroad dreams by familiarizing them with the latest developments, changing protocols and updates from governments and universities.

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Frequently asked questions by students during this time are:

  • Are borders open for students to travel?
  • Can I apply for a student visa?
  • Can I apply now to study abroad for 2021 intakes?
  • Can students travel to study in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, and France?
  • Are face to face classes going to be conducted in Fall 2021?
  • Do I need to quarantine when I travel to my study destination?

Is enrolment to study abroad open in 2021?

Given the current situation, enrolment to courses across destinations is open and on-going. However, different scenarios are playing out and students should pay close attention to new developments or updates for their respective choice of study. There are many intake options specific to destinations. While most courses have moved online, there are a few courses that are carrying out on-campus study or a hybrid model of learning. As most are online, being proactive is of prime importance.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is one of the worst affected countries. With a new variant emerging from there, a lockdown was imposed to contain the spread. Courses in UK have moved online. Student visas are being accepted and processed at regular time frames. Applications to Fall 2021 are open for courses across the UK.

Earlier, given the Graduate Immigration Route, for the Post Study Work Visa, students had to arrive in the UK before April 2021, but the date has been changed to 27th September 2021. With vaccinations being ramped up, out of the 66 million population, 30.4 million have been vaccinated. The government has devised a roadmap to 'unlocking' the UK and returning to normalcy. As of 17th June, students will be able to resume in-person teaching and learning. Students are required to take a COVID test before they travel to a non-term residence. From 27th September, there's a 4-week pause at Step 3 of the roadmap. After 14 days, the data will be reviewed and a decision will be taken. The UK is expected to move to Step 4 on 19 July. Students are eligible to travel as Student Visas or Tier 4 visas are residential visas but must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.

With regards to quarantine charges and testing fees, Universities in UK have reiterated that they will reimburse or cover the amount for international students arriving from Red-List countries like India, up to £1,750.

It's advised that international students travel abroad, only after being fully vaccinated as it is safer, though vaccines are available for students on campus. Students will be welcomed back to study in UK, in a phased manner, with students studying practical courses arriving first, and others arriving later.

Canada

Canada is one of the most popular destinations for study abroad. As cases surged, universities in Canada moved their courses online. But as the situation gets better, relaxations are being introduced owing to vaccination drives. With a population of 37 million, around 4.2 million have been vaccinated.

After securing admission to a course at a university in Canada, students may apply for a Canadian Study Permit for upcoming intakes. Students that are granted their visas are travelling to Canada for their study.

When the student arrives in Canada, Online classes will be conducted for the May semester and on campus for the September semester. Once the situation eases, students may be able to travel to Canada without having to quarantine.

Work extensions are also being granted to students who complete their courses in Canada.

As of February 21, 2021, at 11:59 pm ET, students have to meet the new testing and quarantine requirements while travelling to Canada. These are the most recent Covid-19 rules for 2021:

A border services officer (BSO) will make the final decision on whether you're eligible to enter Canada when you arrive. When the border services officer greets you, they consider

  • your reason for travelling to Canada.
  • your ability to comply with all the mandatory COVID-19 requirements, unless you're exempt
  • your ability to comply with your approved DLI's COVID-19 readiness plan
    • This may include a 14-day quarantine period.
  • proof that you have enough money to support yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
  • the timing of your arrival
    • You should give yourself enough time before school starts, to
      • complete the mandatory COVID-19 requirements
      • meet any requirements in your approved DLI's COVID-19 readiness plan
    • If you arrive too early, you may be refused entry by the BSO.

You may check the link below for further updates:
https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/students.html

United States (US)

Being one of the most affected destinations by Covid 19, the USA continues to offer world-class education to international students. Enrolment to courses at Universities in USA is open for the major upcoming intake of September (Fall) 2021. Admissions are also open for January and May 2022 intakes.

After applying and securing admission to Universities in USA, students may apply for an F1 Visa (study visa) for their study in USA. Though there is a travel ban for the USA, students, American citizens and those under the NIE (National Interest Exception) are exempted from the ban. Hence, students may travel to the USA for their overseas education. To help students travel for their study abroad, the US Consulate in India has dedicated 2 months of operations to student visa appointments.

Given the high vaccination rate and downward trend of the pandemic in the USA, with most classes being held online, most international students are studying from their home countries. Some courses have on-campus classes, but in intervals, in a hybrid teaching format. The shift from on-campus to online classes has not affected the Optional Practical Training (OPT) after the completion of the course. The USA, with a population of 328.2 million, has vaccinated 146.4 million, which has introduced the possibility of resuming on-campus classes for the upcoming intake.

Based on the current guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students arriving in USA are required to have a negative RT-PCR test, taken 72 hours before departure. However, they may be asked to take an additional test upon arrival. Currently, there is no national mandate that emphasizes a quarantine period, but the quarantine requirement depends entirely on individual institutions and students are advised to enquire about the same with the institution. Vaccination policies are also dependant on the institution. If students are vaccinated with a kind of vaccine that is not accepted, they may have to be revaccinated.

For more information and updates, you may check here:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Australia

During the pandemic's early rise, Australia shut its borders to prevent the transmission. The Australian government has not mentioned anything yet about any relaxations on that front. Students may apply to courses at universities in Australia and study online till the borders are open for on-campus classes. Students are now required to have a study visa before starting their courses, to be eligible for a Post Study Work (PSW) visa. For online study, students can now opt for lesser modules and pay tuition fees only for those specific modules. If a student wishes to study on-campus, and not online, they may defer their admission by a semester/year. Student visa applications are being processed and visas are being granted, but students aren't allowed to travel. There aren't any rules or restrictions announced for travellers with regards to quarantine as well.

New Zealand

New Zealand, during the early progression of the pandemic, shut its borders to contain the spread within the country. Admissions to courses at universities in New Zealand are on hold indefinitely. Some universities like Massey and NMIT have online classes for about 20 hours a week. To assist students, pre-recorded classes are being made available in their respective time zones. Borders may open in Feb 2022, but may open earlier if the situation improves. Admissions to every course at the universities are on hold currently. The country is not processing or granting student visas, at the moment.

You may check updates on https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/covid-19/border-closures-and-exceptions/border-entry-requirements

Ireland

Ireland has restrictions and precautions in place to avoid accelerating the spread of Covid. On the education front, students can apply to a wide number of courses at universities in Ireland for the 2021 and 2022 intakes.

Student visa applications are being processed and granted and students have started travelling to Ireland for their study. Universities in Ireland have adopted a hybrid learning structure in which students attend on-campus classes for 3 days and the remaining days of instruction are conducted online. This divide helps students complete their degrees while also being safe and cautious. Work extensions are also being granted to students who complete their courses in Ireland.

Students arriving in Ireland must complete a 14-day mandatory quarantine. The student's quarantine period may finish earlier if a negative result of an RT-PCR test, taken no less than 5 days after their arrival in Ireland, is presented.

All passengers arriving in Ireland must:

  • complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form
  • provide evidence that you have a negative or ‘not detected’ result from a COVID-19 Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test carried out no more than 72 hours before you arrive into Ireland, or have evidence that you are exempt from this legal requirement

France

In France, borders are open, and universities are accepting applications to courses. Students who secure admission to Universities in France can apply for a student visa for their education abroad and travel may travel through the air bubble agreement. 14-day quarantine is compulsory, but it is based on the student's preference of residence for that period. Courses have been moved online and some follow a hybrid learning structure.

Germany

Germany shut its borders at the start of 2021, due to the second wave of Covid-19 infections. All courses in Germany have shifted online across all universities and there are no on-campus classes being conducted currently. Students can apply to courses at universities in Germany. Student visa applications and processing are underway. Currently, all universities are offering online education and based on how the situation progresses, the government will announce some relaxations.

As of 13th May 2021, Non-EU and non-Schengen area nationals are permitted to enter Germany to begin quality vocational training only if they meet the following criteria:

  • The person has a visa for purposes of training or education (after completing a language course, if applicable).
  • The person presents documentation from the training institution confirming that the person's presence is necessary (in person and not only online) despite the current coronavirus situation.
  • Entry for the purpose of attending a language course to prepare for subsequent training is permitted if the person demonstrates upon entry that the training will begin directly after the completion of the language course (without any intervening travel home, which would require re-entry to start the actual training)

Those individuals, though fully vaccinated, that are arriving from an area where new variants have been discovered, have to be mandatorily quarantined for 10 days, which may end early on the fifth day, if a negative test report is presented.

If you seek personalised counselling, get in touch with Edwise today. Since we are up to date with the latest occurrences, our counsellors can help you take the next step to study abroad.

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Also read: 9 Questions You Must Ask a University



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