International students are going through an adamant phase of life. As the first term of the 2020-2021 academic year is coming to an end, discussions are going on regarding the various challenges students are facing due to remote learning. The discussions are necessary as international students are facing problems due to distant learning. However, strangely students themselves are not part of the discussion.
Not Much Support for International Students
International students constitute around 20% of the total student population. Although they constitute only 20 per cent of the population, they make significant contributions to a country’s economy. They pay almost three times more in tuition fees than domestic undergraduate students. Still, they have not received their due credit or appreciation, or support this current academic year. On the contrary, they have paid more and received inadequate support.
International students are already miffed and disheartened due to unfair treatments. The 2020-2021 academic year has created more acute problems for international students, are facing a lot of challenges this year. For example, restrictions on international travelling, remote learning, high tuition fees for a type of education can also get from Youtube. Moreover, some universities have forced international students to make tough decisions. For example, they have to either live apart from family members during COVID-19 or try to finish the academic year in a separate time zone.
What will international students do? What is their fault? They are paying more money but facing more hurdles. Does that mean students should stop studying in foreign countries? The behaviour of the countries is at least indicating that direction.
Tough Challenges for International Students
When COVID-19 started taking lives one after one, the whole world went into a panic mode at the beginning of the year. They did not know what to do and sealed international borders. All of a sudden, international students felt trapped. They did not know what to do. Countries like the USA gave an ultimatum to international students. All of a sudden, they declared that international students have to leave the country. The reason is simple. Online classes are available. So, they can read everything online. That created massive stress amongst international students. Some of them had to leave the country when their final exams were going on.
The painful hardships of international students did not end there. Thousands of international students live in university hostels. They had to leave their dorms in the last week of April 2020. They had nowhere to go since international borders were already sealed back then. So, what would they have done?
International students could not go back to their homes. They could not live in their dorms. That meant they had to find rental apartments. Imagine the frightful condition of international students. Most of them do not have enough money in their wallets to live in rental apartments. As it is, they have to spend a lot of money on high tuition costs. So, international students faced extreme financial hardship during that period. Some of them could not eat properly. Some of them lived under trees. Some of them spent the extra money to live in rental apartments.
Some universities tried to be considerate in some cases. They gave time to international students to find rental apartments. However, that was not enough. International students faced acute mental and financial stress during that time.
It is not right to blame and criticize the university for their lack of apathy for international students during the pandemic. However, COVID-19 made one fact very clear. Whenever there is a crisis, there is no safety or security for international students. Lack of support for international students has made this point quite clear.
What is the biggest challenge for international students? Well, it is the high tuition cost. Millions of people have lost jobs during the pandemic. It is quite tough for parents to pay high tuition fees during this economic crisis. Plus, parents are also not interested in paying high tuition fees as international students have not been appropriately treated in the last few months.
In the previous academic year, tuition fees for domestic and international students increased by 3.75%. Again, in the 2020-21 academic year, the tuition fees went by 3.75%. But there is one interesting fact that we need to consider. The increase in the tuition cost for several domestic students was relatively small. They already have a low tuition fee. However, international students faced a significant problem. They faced a dramatic increase in their fee structure. We have to remember one fact. International students are already facing issues in finding a job after summer due to the pandemic.
It is true that domestic students also faced problems in finding a job post-summer. However, they could apply for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). International students could not apply to these programs. Moreover, their home countries could not offer enough wage subsidies during this time.
International students faced another hurdle in this academic year. The cost of living has increased this year. How will international students afford those expenses? How will they get the requisite money? Canada has introduced a few international student-friendly programs. But it is too soon to make any judgment. Plus, international students are not happy with many things. So, we have to see how they respond to these programs. Will they come back to Canada and prefer to study here? The Canada government has already realized its mistake. Are they trying to appease international students with new programs? Let us see if international students are appeased. Japan has already come up with an excellent program for international students. International graduates can work in Japan for two years after finishing their studies. So, international students are likely to be attracted to this new program.
No matter what, international students faced a lot of hurdles this year. Let us hope COVID-19 goes away by the end of 2020, and international students can study in peace in 2021.