In recent weeks, several reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have suggested that the novel coronavirus, which has gripped the entire world, is mutating and spreading at an unprecedented pace. The pandemic has, without a doubt, stretched far beyond what most of us had anticipated, hoped or were prepared for. However, despite this, it is important that we keep in mind the fact that we are not here to stay. With the vaccine here, there is a sense of reassurance and a glimmer of hope on the horizon. As scientists, doctors, governments and policy makers across the globe work to better understand the virus and tackle the consequences we are facing as a result of it, we need to ensure that education and learning do not get compromised. In the process of getting accustomed to this new normal, it has been crucial that we keep abreast of the changes and the demands these uncertain times present us with. Reworking traditional concepts of what education has meant in the past is more important than ever before as we embark on our journey forward.
Studying abroad is an avenue several students in India opt for when making a decision regarding their undergraduate and postgraduate education. With the current travel restrictions, lockdown impositions and a plethora of other regulations, going abroad may not only seem like a daunting task but also appear out of reach. The unpredictability of these times may lead to a certain hesitance and apprehension regarding enrolling in an international university. Nonetheless, this should not translate into students having to alter their higher education plans and their career trajectories. There are institutes in the country that offer courses in collaboration with leading international universities. This ensures that the quality of the education being imparted to the students is benchmarked against the best in the world. As global education is credit based, credits from these Universities are accepted in any international university world over. Following their undergraduate programme from India, students can apply to international universities for higher education having already fulfilled the credit prerequisites needed for their Masters. In addition to this, due to the transferable credit structure, students can also decide to do a certain duration of the programme from India and the rest of it from the affiliated University abroad, offering a blended learning that is an amalgamation of the best features of both the worlds. By partnering with international universities, these institutes offer degrees that are recognised globally. The courses are designed by faculty who are experts in their domains to ensure that students get the same kind of exposure, learning and develop similar skills that will hold them in good stead in the future.
Undergraduate programmes normally span 3 to 4 years and that affords another option for those students who are still eager to go abroad. Students can do their first year online from home and subsequently go on to pursue the rest of their course abroad. As an increasing number of people get vaccinated and the situation comes under control, travel restrictions will ease, visa application centres will open up and students will once again have the opportunity to head outside the country to study the programmes of their choice.
International universities have also taken into consideration the situation that is afflicting people across the world, and have taken several measures to accommodate students coming from countries that are heavily affected by the COVID-19 virus. Most universities, especially in Europe, are still accepting international applicants. There is an increased flexibility in the way the courses are being planned and implemented, starting dates for programmes are no longer fixed and rigid and contingency measures have been put in place until lockdowns and other restrictions are removed.
In the present times, it is essential that we don’t forget the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is a test of our resilience, patience and inner strength. Despite all the drawbacks the current situation may have presented us with, there are several alternative options that will ensure that students don’t need to lose sight of their goals and put their futures on hold. As we move ahead, keeping our hope and faith intact, we will find that the opportunities are endless both within the field of education and in general and in spite of the physical distance we are closer together than ever before.