–Piyush Kumar, Regional Director (South Asia), IDP Education
International students are very critical for a country’s economy. They bring a unique skillset, fresh outlook, young talent, and cultural perspective to accelerate the growth of a nation and make it more diverse and developed. The number of international students is expected to rise to 8 million by 2025 worldwide (as per Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It reflects the significance of international students who bring not only economic but also social and cultural impact.
The economic impact is not limited to tuition fees, living costs, medical bills, and transportation. When students move around the globe, they add value to scientific and technical research, introduce different perspectives, make societies more liberal and tolerant, and even make way for long-term business collaborations.
International students bring socio-cultural diversity to their campuses, hence creating a progressive and enriching learning environment. It is due to them that many universities, located across borders, forge international tie-ups. And once graduated, international students, become informal ambassadors leading exchanges between their home nation and the host nation, indirectly helping both in strengthening their travel, trade, and diplomatic ties.
For instance, in a country like Canada, where the population is ageing and declining, the country’s economic growth or even economic stability depends on international talent. In the years to come, this dependability and demand will only increase as new international talent has not travelled to Canada because of the pandemic. The global health crisis left many students in a dilemma about their future and study plans amidst the uncertainties triggered by the pandemic. However, to help students in these uncertain times, many institutions and nations have undertaken several measures to provide the same world-class education virtually in a seamless manner.
1) Institutions have introduced blended learning models in which students can take a part of their course online and remaining via on-campus learning as soon as the conditions permit allowing them to travel to their destination
2) Knowing that Visa Application Centres have been impacted due to series of lockdowns, institutions have further allowed students to begin their education with just the proof of their visa application. If for some reason, a student’s visa is refused, he/she has a much longer time frame to apply for a full refund
3) Students also have a choice of deferring their course to the next intake without any financial repercussions, in case they don’t want to go for online sessions
4) Some countries like the UK, USA and Ireland have started welcoming international students provided they submit a COVID negative report before boarding and upon arrival. Besides, students would be required to self-quarantine for a designated time upon reaching their destination
5) Canadian institutions have also clarified that even if students could not travel to Canada immediately, they would still get the advantage of a complete work permit. In addition, students also have the flexibility to attend either synchronous (live) or asynchronous (recorded) classes according to their individual preferences
6) Many institutions have even adopted student-friendly policies, including waivers, scholarships, and deadline extensions. For students planning to study in the US, US universities have waived off application fee and even GRE/GMAT requirements for masters and SAT/ ACT for undergraduate degrees
7) To maintain health and safety standards, many institutions are conducting vaccination drives on campus. Additionally, they are also investing in establishing medical support and mental health support centres, some of which have a dedicated wing for international students to help them settle in a new environment
International students form the very foundation of a well-connected, diverse, and globalised world. Hence, universities and educational institutions are doing everything to provide a convenient and safe study experience to their international students. Once a student has expressed interest in an international institution, it is the responsibility of the education specialists and that institution to show him the way to fulfilling his dream.