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Impact of COVID-19 on International Students

Mark Blackwood 23 Apr 2020
Impact of COVID-19 on International Students

Being an international student is not easy. The decision to move to another country for education is rather tough, but further go the complicated application process and language tests. If the application is accepted, comes the hardest part – leaving the home country and getting used to a new culture and language environment. The current situation with the outbreak of COVID-19 has made this process even more complicated, stressful and full of uncertainty. The application process for international students is now on a halt. Those students who are already enrolled cannot go back to their home countries due to closed borders and are stuck abroad.

How Pandemic Influences Current International Students?

The coronavirus pandemic has created a very hard situation for international students. Many of them do not live on campus and rent an apartment or share a room with other students. Often the housing conditions of international students are tough: they live in small rooms of 4 or more people. Their insecurity about accommodation is further exacerbated by the fact that many of them do not know their rights as tenants, which a landlord or a real estate agent can take advantage of. It also happens that international students rent from a roommate, some family or another third party without any written agreements that make them vulnerable legally. If any issues arise, they cannot prove their right to the accommodation.

Even without any economic crisis many international students often worry about paying for their housing. Their financial situation is rather risky because the main source of income for students commonly is a part-time job – in a café, a shop, a hostel, or the like. Due to a quarantine, many such businesses have closed and fired their employees or severely reduced the staff. Those international students who underwent this scenario now are out of money to pay for the rent. Another aggravating factor is that they also do not have the possibility to go back to their families in their home countries because of the closed borders. The situation with the accommodation of many international students is menacing, especially considering how unpredictable the situation is and what to expect in the future.

The quarantine may last till the end of April or maybe for another month or two. For those international students who are at threat of becoming homeless and hungry, the situation seems very dangerous: even in the best-case scenario, it is not likely that they will be able to find another job immediately. It is not always possible for the family to provide financial support, especially when the situation in the home country is similar or maybe even worse. Apart from the rent, these students need to pay for their tuition, which is another unbearable financial burden for people who have lost a job due to the circumstances out of their control. This entire situation poses a serious concern and requires some intervention.

Read also: How to choose the best USCIS certified translation services?

Impact of COVID-19 on the Potential International Students

The coronavirus outbreak had a vast direct and indirect effect on so many populations. The prospective students who planned to study abroad have been hit hard. Many countries that are popular destinations for studying are now going through the quarantine and the epidemic: the US, China, Australia, Europe.

With the emergence of the pandemic and the COVID-19 spreading across the globe with more and more cases of infection in more countries, the majority of prospective international students start considering the alternatives. While previously, many hoped that the region they intended to study in will not be affected by the coronavirus epidemic, by this time, the situation has aggravated to a point where all the world is under the influence of the virus and the safest place is at home. Taking this into account, many prospective international students now postpone any decisions regarding moving abroad until the recovery from the pandemic.

Although many of those who wanted to apply for a degree abroad had their plans ruined, there are still several options for them to choose from.

Wait until the Next Year

Many of the prospective international students have chosen to defer their application to next year. This, indeed, can be a good decision since the ripple effect after the COVID-19 outbreak will still impact the economy for some time. Those who will wait until the situation normalizes will be less likely to face high prices, issues with housing, etc. in the intended country. Moreover, it is not possible to predict how soon the situation will be resolved. So having a gap year may be one of the best solutions.

Consider Getting an Online Degree

This may be a good option, especially for those who want their studies to be flexible. Now many universities worldwide offer online learning programs for a variety of majors. Getting a degree remotely is very convenient and time-saving: the programs for online learning are designed to be as effective as in-class studying but without the necessity to go somewhere. However, this option works not for everyone. Often students want to go abroad to study a foreign language, which in this case will not be possible.

Study in a Country Other Than the Intended

It is clear that some of the countries have been affected more than others. China is now slowly starting to recover after the coronavirus outbreak and the quarantine. The USA is now the world’s most affected country in the acute phase of the epidemic. On the other hand, Australia, although it is affected but to a much lesser extent. Keeping in mind the consequences of the epidemic, it may be a good idea to go to study in a country that was less affected by the COVID-19.

Go to University in Home Country

This choice is the least popular but it still should be considered. There is no doubt that the lesser one’s mobility is, the safer it is in the current situation. Many universities globally have the exchange programs so, after 2 years of studying in the homeland and demonstrating good academic results and dedication, one can go abroad under such a program. The good news here is that many exchange programs are free or cover the greater part of the expenses, which makes it less challenging financially.


Measures the Universities Should Take

The coronavirus pandemic has a great impact on the educational sector. Schools and universities were the first institutions to be closed when the epidemic started. It is very important not to stop the educational process and take care of the students, especially for those who are stuck on campus or those who cannot return to their home country. In order to provide an adequate response to the situation the universities should:

Be flexible

The new circumstances require educational institutions to find new ways to keep the educational process going on. Offering some alternatives to exams like on-line tests, having lectures broadcasted, substituting some activities with others that allow for remote participation are necessary to continue education during the quarantine.

Show empathy and care

University administration needs to be clear, communicative, and empathetic with prospective international students and make sure that all staff members are familiar with the plan on how to deal with the crisis. The information regarding the application process during the coronavirus needs to be available on the website and be regularly updated.

Ensure safety

Campuses should be open for those students who have no possibility to go home. To make them safe, certain measures such as providing sanitizing hand gel everywhere in the campus, regular cleaning, and disinfection, ensuring social distancing and self-isolation are needed to be introduced. Students should be informed and reminded about the safety rules.

Establish a 24-hour helpline for students in need

Psychological burden during the quarantine is one of the hardest things to cope with. In addition to harsh quarantine measures that are stressful, students themselves or their families and friends may be affected by the virus. It clearly shows that there is a need for psychological support to be organized by educational institutions.

Moving more of their lectures online

Online learning, virtual learning platforms, or other education practices can help schools to connect with their students without any health risks. This COVID-19 has also demonstrated that there is a need to create more electronic libraries and databases to allow for remote education.

Provide access to healthcare for students

A nurse on campus should have all the protective equipment and be ready to respond to the health concerns of students. Universities need to make sure that their medical staff is familiar with all the modern protocols of how to deal with presumably coronavirus patients.

TheWorldPoint understands that the world pandemic of COVID-19 is a serious challenge for everyone, including international students. And offers discounts for students and enrollees. In this situation, the most important thing is to stay healthy and take care of one’s close people. Those students whose studies or application were affected should be strong and patient – once the situation gets back to the norm, you will be able to continue your educational journey. 


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