South Asia study abroad interest remains high


A mere 2% of prospective students in South Asia would “totally drop” the idea of studying overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic, a survey by counselling organisation Global Reach has revealed.

Mirroring similar findings from a Yocket survey earlier this year, close to 70% of the 1,572 respondents indicated they still had an interest in studying abroad in the July-September 2020 cohort despite Covid-19.

Although 40% said they would wait to commence until the pandemic is over, some 25% of applicants would rather defer than cancel.

Respondents included individuals from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, with around 90% seeking to pursue postgraduate studies overseas.

Half of the respondents revealed they were interested in studying in Australia, followed by those opting for the UK or Canada.

“Student interest with studying overseas remain strong as planned while travel uncertainties loom large,” Global Reach said.

Travel restrictions and flight cancellations were a concern for 47%, while suspended visa processes were noted as a potential problem for 34%

Only 27% said they had health and safety concerns.

“Students’ concerns range from getting paperwork done and finances ready for application to job opportunities after course completion and stay back options thereafter,” Global Reach added.

“Close to 40% have expressed concern over not being able to embark on their study abroad journey as the visa centres are closed whereas about 30% are affected by their local university/school being closed, making it difficult for them to attain their transcripts for application processing.”

Student interest with studying overseas remain strong

A quarter of students surveyed are open to online delivery, provided it is for one semester, and visa and post-study work rights are assured.

However, 50% said they were not interested in online delivery, with only 6% indicating they would be happy to pay the same price as on-campus education for off-campus remote delivered delivery.

“Basic face-to-face interactions and the experiences of on-campus lifestyle are key attractions to the scholars in the overseas education format,” Global Reach added.

Earlier this week, the UK government announced that international students would still be eligible to access the graduate immigration route as long as they are in the country by April 6, 2021, and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.

Additionally, a Universities UK survey found that 97% of responding institutions will offer in-person teaching at the start of term.

A survey of 850 Indian students earlier this year revealed that 50% of students could consider deferring their study plans due to concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on jobs & salaries, and personal health.

Global Reach has recently launched its “renewed” online platform PSA to offer semi-virtual handling of the student counselling process through a GR trained counsellor. The three-year-old platform generated around 10% of total student enquiries in 2019.

“Our vision is to use technology as an enabler to support every student in their quest for international education,” said Ravi Lochan Singh, managing director of Global Reach.