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International Students: Study abroad destination choice amid uncertainty



The uncertainty right now seems uncanny; just when we thought that we have gone past the dreadful times of COVID-19 and that now, we can return to the “normal”, we have a new variant that reminds us that the uncertainty is here to stay, for much longer than we could anticipate. COVID-19 has affected the world and its beings in multiple ways and different proportions. The only plan humanity can have right now is to accept the uncertainty and prepare for the future embracing it.

Looking at the pattern of students moving abroad, it’s clear that not just universities but students have started accepting the realities of the pandemic and now even more students are vouching for study abroad opportunities.

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According to the UK Home office data, the number of Indian students who received a visa for studying in the UK increased from 45676 students in 2020 to 90669 students in 2021. Similarly, the number of Indian students who received a student visa from the US has increased from 15000 in 2020 to 62000 in 2021. 

With studies going online due to lockdown, the quality of higher education in India is questioned by many experts, teachers, parents, and students. In such a scenario, students don’t want to compromise with their higher education, and hence more and more students are turning towards international education destinations.

Higher education in abroad destinations like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. is considered much better than in India. And after the pandemic, the demand for these destinations has seen a sharp rise due to the quality of education.

The unemployment in the country is further exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, therefore for availing better job opportunities, study abroad destinations are becoming the first choices for the students. INTO University Partnerships did a global survey with students of 93 countries in August of 2021 for understanding how the pandemic impacted the study abroad aspirations of the Gen Z population. It was found that the top 3 reasons for students to choose a foreign university for higher education are higher quality teaching (54.4%), scholarships availability (50.5%), and a higher employment rate (46.4%). 

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With vaccinations being a widespread phenomenon, students and universities are finding it much easier to participate and avail of higher education in its entirety. Universities across the globe have also made special arrangements to deal with the pandemic and support international students. Some of the most common study abroad destinations have been the US, UK, and Canada. In the next section, we discuss how it’s important for students to choose wisely the study abroad destination and consider multiple pandemic related factors, which abroad destinations are more student-friendly. 

Choose your destination wisely

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Students are worried about traveling to these countries because what if the Omicron variant spreads and they might get stuck in the particular country, and it’s an important scare. In these uncertain times, parents need to look at a country that has done most for its students in the COVID-19 situation, and that country is the USA.

Though the USA is anyway one of the most preferred study abroad destinations for international students but the US has also lived up to the expectations. During COVID times, institutions adapted to the pandemic; virtual and remote learning programs were created for students who couldn’t travel. For students who were on campus, there was an increased communication on health, safety, and well-being. 

There was an Emergency Student Fund created to support international students in the US who were impacted by the pandemic; 1000+ students were given support through the fund. Further, multiple opportunities were created for students to connect, stay abreast with significant topics, and share information. For instance, several channels (including WhatsApp and Instagram groups) were created by universities and alumni to support student onboarding and help students and their parents answer university and location-specific questions. 

Universities in the US have worked closely with staff, students, alumni, and parents and come up with novel solutions to support their students. They have shown incredible resilience in terms of handling the uncertainties related to the pandemic, and it indeed reinforces the US as a top choice for international students. 


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Adarsh Khandelwal
Adarsh Khandelwalhttp://collegify.com
Adarsh Khandelwal,Co-Founder & CEO, Collegify

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