THE Covid-19 pandemic has forced Indian students to rethink their higher education choices abroad, with 61 per cent of them deciding to defer their course of study by a year, 8 per cent choosing to study in a different country and another 7 per cent cancelling their plans altogether, a survey by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British agency that brings out the World University Rankings every year, has found.
The findings are part of an ongoing survey by QS of prospective international students and how the Covid crisis has impacted their study plans. As of August 11, the survey had 66,959 responses, of which 11,310 are Indians.
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According to the segregated data on Indian students that QS shared with The Indian Express, almost half the respondents (49 per cent) plan to study at ‘postgraduate-by-coursework’ level (MBA, Master’s and graduate diploma), another 19 per cent at ‘postgraduate-by-research’ level (Master’s and PhD) and 29 per cent want to pursue undergraduate studies abroad. The remaining are planning to pursue English language studies, foundation courses, and vocational education and training.
The decision to put off higher studies abroad by a year could be attributed to several universities moving their Fall Semester entirely online. Almost half (48%) the Indian students were not keen on studying their programme online due to the pandemic. Only 17% responded by saying they were still ‘extremely’ or ‘very interested’.
The survey found that 82 per cent of students expect foreign universities to reduce their tuition fee if they are expected to study online. About 5 per cent do not have a problem paying the same tuition fee, and 12 per cent are unsure.
A quarter (24%) of the respondents feel universities should offer to reduce the tuition fee by almost half, 19 per cent want a discount of up to 40 per cent, and 20 per cent want a fee discount of up to 30 per cent until they can start attending face-to-face classes.
“When it comes to what measures they want universities to implement, prospective international students are becoming less interested in moving courses online and more interested in universities holding lectures in larger rooms to minimise contact,” the survey states.
India is the world’s second largest source of international students. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, there were nearly 7,53,000 Indian students abroad as of July 2018.
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