Before the pandemic hit, 20-year-old Harmandeep Kaur from Jalandhar’s Rahimpur village had almost firmed up her plans to fly to UK for September intake to a three-year Business Management course at Coventry College London.
While online classes her only option now, she has deferred her joining to the next student intake in January, 2021.
Talking to The Indian Express, Harmandeep, who scored 75 per cent in her Class 12 exams, said: “I have paid 13,900 Pounds (Rs 13,90,000) for the first year as fee. But if I take online classes I would not be able to pay my second year fee while sitting at home and taking online classes. I had envisaged earning in UK and paying off my fee by working part-time in the permitted hours there.”
Harmandeep had got her admission done through Kapurthala-based consultancy service, Future Point.
Like Harmandeep, Phagwara’s Jaspreet Kaur (19) too says that she was eligible for online classes from a Canadian institute, but has decided not to take that option.
Jaspreet had taken admission at KPU College, Vancouver, in two-year Business Accountancy diploma course (May intake).
“I have deposited my one-year fee, which is close to Rs 13 lakh, including tuition fee and GIC living charges. I am eligible for online classes, but I prefer to defer my course for September intake as there is huge uncertainty at the moment,” said Jaspreet, whose admission was facilitated by Jalandhar-based Arman Immigration.
The 19-year-old added: “Studying abroad costs the moon as the fee is to be paid in dollars or pounds, which when converted into India currency is too high for a normal family to afford. If we opt to study online, the opportunity of earning money that we could have earned by working part-time in the permitted hours would be lost. It is difficult to pay the fee from our own pockets if don’t work part-time abroad.”
Raj Kumar, the MD of Arman Immigration, said “Students are not keen on taking online classes. Nearly 10 students, who had got admission in various courses in Canadian universities and colleges from my institute, had paid one-year fee and GIC charges making them eligible for online classes, but they have asked me to get their courses extended for September intake. If the conditions do not improve, then they may defer the same for January intake.” He added that the option to defer admission till January intake was available to students.
Consultants are also taking up the issue of refund of fees with the Canadian institutes.
Hardeep Singh, MD of Harnidh Overseas Pathway Education, said: “The University of Canada has agreed to refund 100 per cent tuition fee if a student applies here for online classes but he/she is unable to make it to Canada due to Covid-19 or other reasons after taking admission for online classes.” He added that efforts were on to convince other universities too to agree to this condition.
But despite this option opening up, only a handful of students are willing to take up online classes. 18-year-old Neha from Jalandhar is one among them.
She was all excited about flying to Canada after her admission to Montreal’s CDI College to pursue a two-year diploma in Network Engineering after completing her Class 12. But her plans to leave for Canada on March 18 were thwarted due to the pandemic outbreak.
Despite having paid her tuition fee and GIC (Guaranteed Investment Certificate) living expenses for one year, Neha has now opted for online classes.
“I am taking my classes online, but I was more excited to fly and take physical classes in Canada,” she said, adding that she hopes to continue the second year of her course in Canada.
With Indian students making immense contribution in tuition fees to foreign universities they pick, these institutions too are preparing for student intake alongside the Covid crisis with several concessions.
To attract Indian students during the crisis, UK recently adopted several measures that included granting students two years of Post-Study Work Visa after graduation, even if they are not able to travel to the country to physically attend the classes, and offering English language foundation course and a host of scholarships.
Meanwhile, Canada too recently announced Visa Approval in Principle (AIP) that allows students to apply for online classes in courses of their choice. But overall student response has been lukewarm in Punjab.
Various immigration consultants The Indian Express spoke to said that majority of students, who were supposed to fly in March and April for their courses starting in May, have deferred their courses for September intake.
Narpat Babbar of Jupiter Academy explained why online classes not the go-to option for students from Punjab who plan overseas education.
Babbar said that only 20 per cent parents pay the entire fee of the course, while remaining 80 per cent pay one-year fee, with the onus falling on the students to work part-time and earn the rest of the amount.
Lovish Kalia, founder member, and former general secretary, Association of Consultants for Overseas Studies, claim that the main purpose of students from Punjab is to reach abroad, and earn while they study.
“Only those Indian students, who had landed in Canada in February and March for May intake, are taking online classes. It is not a choice preferred by students stuck here and eligible for the same,” he said.
Immigration consultant Hardeep Singh said that thousands of students were ready to fly from Indian to different foreign countries if circumstances become favourable.
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