The start of 2020 seems to have unfortunately set in motion for hysteria, panic and commotion amongst the student community, thanks to COVID-19. Students who are planning for the upcoming 2020 intake are in two minds now with regards to taking their plans further. Amongst all the negative news and comments floating online, through this article we intend to put forth all viable options feasible for students planning for their education abroad.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, though colleges and universities across the world are grappling with many challenges, they are taking prompt actions to ensure not only the safety of their students but also ensuring their courses are not prolonged. As for the students planning to join the upcoming intakes, a good number of Universities worldwide have come up with certain measures to support them. These are not limited to the following points but can be summarized as:
- Owing to lock down in several countries, entrance examinations such as GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, ACT and SAT now stand cancelled as Test Centers are not functional until further notice. Hence, some Universities are now accepting prospective students who do not possess valid entrance examination scores for the 2020 intake and imposing precondition that such students got to fulfil these requirements before they finish their first semester at the University. Some Universities have started accepting an online English proficiency test called Duolingo English Test (https://englishtest.duolingo.com/) that students can attempt from their home. Students can get in touch with their respective Universities and gain clarity about the same.
- In the current scheme of things revolving the COVID-19 pandemic, students are unable to go to the test centres to take crucial tests. To address this issue and ensure that aspirants are able to stick to their plan of action regarding their higher education, Educational Testing Service or ETS has come up with an effective solution. With the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test and the GRE® General Test at Home, aspirants can take the same tests in the same format in the comfort of their own homes.
- Many Universities across the world are making it flexible for students to apply beyond applications, scores and material deadlines. They are also providing the applicants with the option of deferring their present intake to the next possible intake or up to one year without any extra charges or paperwork in order to accommodate them and garnering their dreams of a golden opportunity to study overseas rustling. Number of Universities have also come up with the idea of enrolling students for online classes for the first semester, where students can continue their programs residing in their home country. After the situation stabilizes, for the second semester, students can then fly abroad to the countries of their choice to continue their degree.
- Some Universities in the US have agreed to refund a substantial amount of tuition fees in case the student enrols for their first semester online, and their visa is rejected later on. However, by completing the Fall semester online, the student may not be eligible for CPT in the following summer. Therefore, some have even proposed the idea that students may enrol for their first semester to be delivered online, and if they make it to the campus even by mid-November 2020, they will be accepted and will be eligible for CPT in summer.
- For now, Embassies and Visa Offices of different countries (like USA, Countries in the European Continent etc.) have been closed starting 14th March till further notice. They are all keen that as soon as the situation improves, they would be starting their Visa Processing and would allow students to Schedule/Reschedule their Visa appointments. Since most of the student visas are done in May-June-July, students still have enough time as of now. Assuming the situation will be back on track by end of April or May, the slots for visa interviews will be opened up by the Embassy and the students will have ample time to get done with their Visa process.
- Students who have received admits from their desired Universities and are waiting to pay the deposits asked by the university can go ahead for now. If students are still unsure of the situation, they may request the Universities for an extension. Given the present scenario, Universities will be considerate enough to extend the deadlines or to defer the admission in case your plans change in the future. Students can also call for I-20 (USA) or the Offer Letter (Other Countries) from the desired universities and start gathering funds and documents for further processes. Most Universities have now started sending these documents via email and the print-outs of the same will be accepted for Visa processes as well.
- Valid Study Permit holders on or before March 18, 2020, are exempt from travel restrictions to Canada. However, isolation for 14 days is mandatory even if there are no signs of COVID-19 symptoms. Students should make their own arrangements for the period of isolation. While the option of enrolling for online classes also remains open in Canadian institutes, the IRCC has declared that this will not affect the eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program and students may complete up to 50% of their program while outside Canada if they cannot come to Canada sooner. Some Universities in Canada have also come up with a solution to delaying their upcoming intake by a couple of months. So classes that usually start in September, will be postponed to October end, which will give the students enough time to apply for their Visas and other formalities. Students can start submitting their applications for study permits online, and the biometric submission date has been extended from 30 days to 90 days for now.
- As for European countries, the Universities are still accepting applications and there has been no change in events or decisions regarding the deadlines. Germany has now started accepting documents online for applications instead of asking for official copies to be posted. Countries like Netherlands that process international student visas themselves, have even started accepting documents from students, which has affirmed, there has been no change/delay in the process. As of now, deferring your intake for countries like France and Italy might be a good option, although if you are unsure, we suggest you to wait for another 30-45 days for the situation to improve.
- Several Australian/NZ Universities are considering postponing their upcoming July 2020 intake by a couple of months, however this is yet to be confirmed. Some reports also suggest that Australia has decided to extend their lock down for the next 6 months. While we’re still waiting to get clarity on these aspects, the universities are working tirelessly to continue assessing applications for the upcoming intake and would be flexible in case students decide to defer to the next intake.
Let’s hope that the situation improves and we are back on track soon. In the meanwhile, students are advised to keep calm and not to make hasty decisions based on events now. Kindly refrain from trusting rumours or misinformation going around through several Social Media Portals as of now and make informed decisions by getting in touch with a professional in the field. In case you wish to discuss and have questions to be answered, please get in touch with us by dropping an enquiry here: http://imperial-overseas.com/contact.php
You are strongly recommended to have a look at what our Business Head & Senior Counselor – Mr Hiren Rathod has to say on COVID-19 and its effect on the upcoming intakes abroad: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-PTrmxJ7H_/?igshid=17z1m2ej6nsem
Team Imperial Overseas Educational Consultants