Do you have an admission letter to the institution of your choice for September 2020 but don't know what to do with it?
Shireen Ardeshir, an Education Advisor and Career Mentor with over two decades of experience, suggests a few tips to keep in mind while weighing your options of studying abroad in 2020.
Step 1: Understand your options
Most international universities have clear guidelines of admission processes and course commencement information clearly outlined on their home pages and of course have their own COVID-19 page to help you understand how the University is planning to cope with the new normal, post COVID-19 era - addressing social distancing at residential colleges, campus safety, health protocols, student services and help for international students.
Additionally, institutions are running many webinars to discuss international student options and are offering an opportunity to interact with and learn from many academic and management staff which would not have been possible previously.
Step 2: Online is a genuine option
Online and hybrid, a mix of online and in-person classes are the way to the future. International Universities have been offering online programs for several years and therefore are in the 'expert' phase of teaching online and providing online resources. While all resources may not have been online previously, most of the institutions have managed a swift and smooth transition online to meet the needs of their domestic and international students. So future students are going to be well looked after through their online learning as Universities have to maintain academic and experience standards.
Tip: If you are committed to starting your programme online, and are able to manage your time and academics, you can consider increasing your study workload example five subjects instead of four or summer/winter courses which can help reduce your study load when you do join the University campus and can help you finish the course earlier as well.
Step 3: Financial considerations
The International Student Community is a huge source of revenue for Universities. This community has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and many universities have kept these considerations in mind.
So one should scout for COVID-19 scholarships or financial aid for international students. One can make an individual appeal as these are being considered on a case-to-case basis. You can also request for easy pay installments, allowing you to additionally break down your semester and deposit fee payments.
And don't forget, studying online in the comfort of your home means no additional living expenses and this can contribute greatly to savings in your overall study expenses.
Step 4: Post-study work visa impact
Countries that had declared a post-study work permit on the completion of student visas in 2019 and which were in existence prior to that include the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These post-study work permits are subject to international students studying full-time for a minimum period specified by the country. Most countries today have agreed to accept all online learning as part of a full-time study load and assuming all other conditions are met, students who have started their course online would still be eligible for the post-study work visa.
Step 5: Visa applications
Those students who have committed to starting their courses in 2020, may also apply for their student visas keeping their options open to travel as soon as border restrictions are removed. Countries currently processing student visa applications include Ireland, UK, NZ, Australia, Canada among others.
However, they are not working in full capacity and therefore visa applications may take longer to process.