The outbreak of Covid 19 has caused global, social, and economic disruption worldwide. While the world is confronting a pandemic, international students are experiencing unprecedented challenges such as immigration policies, finding stable accommodation, and being unable to visit family, all compounded by the difficulty of being a college student.
The majority of the students felt that the pandemic had caused a prominent disruption of their academic pursuits amidst a large proportion of students admitting the effect from moderate to a surprisingly large extent.
Owing to the constant uncertainty of the pandemic and severe constraints imposed in different countries, study abroad aspirants are in a state of uncertainty in planning for their future goals.
A notable transformation in the education industry has been witnessed during the last decade as many students every year fly to foreign lands for earning international degrees and building careers in diverse sectors.
Many students decide to defer their admission for next year. However, some students are looking for possibilities to minimize the loss as much as possible.
Visa rejections and class suspension due to unavoidable lockdown restrictions imposed across various countries are some of the significant reasons for the indecisiveness taking place among several students.
International students are facing the challenges of their Visa deadlines going against the travel restrictions imposed in different countries, along with financial strains of repaying education loans within the deadlines.
International students are obliged to comply with additional requirements. Visas held by international students are given by the federal government and require international students to take on-campus classes. It has become obscure by the conversion of many in-person sessions to an online format.
Apart from all these doubts prevailing at this time, online classes have now become the new mode of studying to maintain social distancing for health safety.
However, many students are facing challenges in attending online classes because of not having computer access or uninterrupted wi-fi connections, restricting their study and obstructing them from staying updated with the curriculum.
Numerous international students completed the preceding semester through remote connection after colleges and universities assisted students to return home in March, but it hasn’t been easy. Students who live in alternate time zones from their professors are obligated to stay up all night to complete online seminars.
Professional development opportunities
In the current global health crisis, growing concerns have been raised about the value and benefits that international education brings to different social groups.
International students are continuously appealing to the respective governments to exempt them from global border restrictions. The international student lobby groups have been voicing concerns of students who have spent notable money on visas and education fees and are still not permitted to enter the country.
The overwhelming ripple outcomes of the coronavirus have been felt in the study abroad industry.
Professional development opportunities are also a major concern for the international students such as building that connection and doing other activities like clubs, internship opportunities. The career services office can take a proactive role in connecting students with professional development opportunities and support.
All activities organized outside of the classroom, such as orientation events or networking opportunities, can be conducted remotely, but students sense the connection isn’t the same over video chat.
Covid-19 has drastically modified the academic landscape for millions of university students, and international students have their own set of unique challenges. The frequent sudden changes, along with the prolonged stress of the pandemic, may pose mental-health challenges, especially if students suffer from pre-existing mental health issues.
Dr. Stephanie Chong, a psychologist at an American university counseling center who has achieved multiple degrees as an international student, reports that complex factors, including the uncertainties and “heightened sense of isolation” brought on by Covid-19, continue to affect the mental health of international students.
Besides, there is a definite increase in prejudice, xenophobia, and racism that might adversely affect the mental health of international students.
Distant learning can add additional stress for international students, particularly for non-native speakers who might strive more further to understand when important social cues are harder to view on screen.
Despite many negative aspects, numerous international students have shown admirable resilience and adaptability during these times.
A study conducted by QS Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. in February 2020 shows how the study abroad plans of 61% of students were not affected by the current global health crisis, while 27% of students felt contrary.
Of the 27% of students whose study overseas plans have been affected due to the ongoing pandemic crisis, 37% want to defer their admission to next year, 33% plan to study in a different country, and 11% no longer desire to pursue their education overseas. These numbers show that the impact of coronavirus on international student recruitment is going to be short-lived.
Considering the pandemic may have adverse outcomes for international students’ mental health, it has been suggested that universities continue to provide evidence-based online counseling services.
Most campuses have risen to this challenge by moving their counseling services online and providing free consultations by email, phone, or video calls.
International students are encouraged to take an active role in managing their mental health by reaching out to their social support systems either on campus or back home.
Many colleges or universities are conducting virtual orientation events, enabling new students to meet with elite students and ask them questions about their experience at the institution. These virtual events can be an opportunity to connect groups of students virtually, encouraging them to trade contact information if suitable. Forming a separate orientation event or breakout session for international students might be worthwhile, allowing those individuals to share sources or extend assistance to each other throughout the unconventional first year of college.
Once travel constraints ease as vaccine rollouts begin to take effect, international students and prospects will feel a dynamic mixture of relief, excitement, and anxiety. The international students will face economies in various stages of healing and intense competition for jobs. The students will be reviewing national policies, enabling them to work during the study and to pursue a job after graduation, costs of living in destination countries and cities, and scholarship opportunities.