By Kavita Parikh
International education is bouncing back after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic disruption. Education, especially international education, was among the worst-hit areas because of the unprecedented turmoil of the pandemic as international travel came to a near halt. Students, cutting across age groups, courses, and locations, were impacted by the pandemic. Even international students had to shift to the online mode of learning and had to do so literally overnight. No one knew this would be the new normal for more than a year and even two years in the case of many students. The adjustment was not easy, but students and teachers rose to the occasion.
With the Covid-19 situation easing globally, many countries have or are going the extra mile to bring back international students to their universities. Educational institutes too have come up with initiatives to welcome international education aspirants to their campuses. Universities in the US, Canada, and other countries welcomed lakhs of international students to their campuses beginning from the fall semester of 2021, but the continuing uncertainty about the Coronavirus and its effects on the economy naturally raises genuine questions and concerns about the sense of pursuing undergraduate courses overseas.
The key challenges in higher education in a post Covid-19 world are mainly borne out of the geopolitical issues and the ongoing economic turmoil. Something that we saw in Ukraine where thousands of students had to literally flee because of the armed conflict with Russia. Many countries have recovered from the economic impact of the pandemic, but quite a few are continuing to feel its effects, which affect opportunities for future graduates. But our interactions with leading universities in the US and Canada show that universities are taking note of these uncertainties and providing students with the necessary foundation and confidence to students to move forwards. The show must go on, as a famous saying goes.
As far as pursuing undergraduate courses overseas is concerned, this depends on a number of factors. This includes the field of study, the university chosen, the country, the future plans, and many more. The answer will be different for every student, but speaking in the broad sense, the answer to the question of pursuing these courses overseas makes sense, is ‘Yes’. This positive response is the result of personal experience as an international student and more than 20 years of experience as an international education counsellor.
International education from solid universities is of immense value because it opens up the perspective, provides exposure to the world and imbibes cutting edge knowledge and skills. For high performing students passing out from such universities are always sought after globally. Of the many advantages of studying abroad the most important is the unparalleled exposure students can get by learning from some of the best teachers and alongside others who are also stellar. This is one of the reasons why US varsities are among the most coveted ones. Moreover, in the US, undergraduate students have the option to learn a combination of subjects that can range from technology, sciences, fine arts, business, management, and others simultaneously. The students can weigh their options and subsequently choose the subject or field they want to graduate in.
In today’s world, exposure has become very important. Living in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, or any other developed country as an international student gives a unique and once-in-a-lifetime exposure to a new society and way of life. Many of these experiences and exposure cannot be gained at any other stage in life. While all of these countries are economic powerhouses in their own right and offer tremendous career opportunities, the other reasons I have mentioned also play a big role in helping them attract the best international students.
For all these reasons and more, if you aspire to pursue undergraduate studies overseas, there is no reason why you should not.
The author is founder, director of Disha Consultants.