Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Students Planning to Study Abroad


Are you planning to study abroad in 2021? Then there are high chances that your plans might have changed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rest assured, several people are dealing with drastic changes in your plans. Be it prominent businessmen, small business owners, or students, and most individuals face several problems. 

Although it is normal for you to worry about your future study plans in such a situation, to strategize and utilizing your time would enable you to make the most out of this situation. 

This informative article deals with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students planning to pursue studies abroad. Further, it will also give you basic guidelines regarding utilizing your time during your time in the lockdown situation. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected studying abroad?

Countries worldwide have imposed partial or total lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. International travel restrictions have significantly impacted both national and international students. 

However, the education sector has started adapting itself to the change by introducing online learning. The pandemic has begun forcing us to rethink the new ways with the help of which we can implement technologies to teach students worldwide. 

The global education sector has undergone significant fundamental drifts within few months. Boon of distance learning technology and the internet have aided in providing education to students. 

Here are some of the prominent aspects of the international education system that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted.  

  1. Virtual classes 

Universities have paused the functioning of on-campus classes, offline activities and shifted to virtual classrooms. By quickly adapting to the present situation, universities have started conducting online examinations, club meetings, and competitions. 

  1. Admission Eligibility

Schools worldwide have started sending original result copies by post as students cannot visit schools in person. As a result, students are not receiving their mark sheets on time. 

Considering this situation, universities are enrolling students even without their previous qualification’s result copies. Although, students are required to submit it once they receive it.

  1. Immigration restriction 

Several countries have restricted the entry of foreign nationals by imposing strict requirements. All these procedures and conditions have caused students to think twice before enrolling themselves on programs abroad.

Tiresome visa procedures and pre-entry medical tests have also caused several students to reconsider their study abroad plans during these challenging times. 

  1. Admission procedure 

In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, schools have started updating their application procedures. Several schools have begun conducting online video interviews of selected candidates. 

Several schools have asked applicants to submit video essays to avoid on-campus presence. Programs that previously had strict admission requirements, such as work experiences, or projects, have also become lenient in this aspect.

  1. Application deadlines 

Most colleges do not provide rolling admission to facilitate the entrance of applicants worldwide. 

Always check the university’s official website to get verified information to find out admission requirements and application deadlines. You can also email the program’s admissions department regarding your admission related queries.

Student intent for admission abroad:

To gauge the impact of COVID-19 amongst students, QS World Rankings conducted several surveys in a row. These surveys consisted of several questions regarding students wants and expectations during the ongoing crisis. 

These surveys were conducted every month within seven consecutive months. Gradual changes in the preference of students regarding the crisis have been seen. 

The QS survey’s report titled “The Coronavirus crisis and the Future of Higher education” surveyed the effect of COVID-19 on international studies. Below are some findings of this survey.

Q. How international students are coping/adapting to the ongoing crisis?

  • About 67% of the students voted that coronavirus had affected their study abroad plans. As the situation gradually worsened, the responses of students also changed.          
  • 54% of the students say that they intend to defer or delay their study plans abroad because of Covid-19. 
  • 63% of students are interested in online studies to varying degrees, while the rest 36% is not interested in studying online. 
  • 79% of the student agrees that they should get tuition fees discount if studies are conducted online.
  • With the trend constantly shifting in favour of on-campus classes, about 62% of students believe that the universities must conduct lectures and seminars in large classrooms to minimise the spread of COVID-19. Alternatively, rest student believes that universities should arrange for online lectures. 

Q. How are universities/institutions adapting to the pandemic?

  • About 60% of the institutions have switched their schedule from on-campus to online studies. In contrast, about 35% of institutions have amended their acceptance of offer deadlines, 36% have changed their application deadlines. 
  • About 72% of the participating universities believe that there will be a decrease in the number of admission applications from international students. 
  • 73% of these universities believe that international students will not pursue studies abroad because of travel restrictions.
  • About 61% of these institutions believe that the government should simplify the student visa process to encourage students.

A word of advice in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

  1. Postpone your studies.

Considering the heavy surge of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, you can decide to postpone your admission. With the current situation, one cannot say when the virus’s crisis will decline. 

Therefore, we should stay at home and prevent the further spread of this virus. 

  1. Go for online programs.

Uncomfortable with postponing your plans? Have you already postponed your plans from 2020 to 2021? Then you are in luck because most programs worldwide have started offering virtual programs and classes for applicants. 

Application forms of most programs are filled online, thus, saving you from the dangers of travelling during this time. Moreover, most schools are running rolling application deadlines to ensure that interested students get admitted into their program. 

Although, online courses are, at times, of higher time duration than their physical counterparts. The duration of an online course depends on the subject’s intensity. However, this does not mean that online courses are of lousy quality or less value. 

Moreover, online courses can be your best bet if you plan to postpone your admission to 2022.

  1. Upskill yourself.

Multiple short online courses are being offered by verified online platforms such as Coursera, Crash Course, LinkedIn, and Harvard university’s online courses. 

The best part of these online courses is that they don’t require any rigorous previous qualifications, thus, allowing you to learn multiple skills. Additionally, you can also find numerous free of cost courses.

Pursuing productive courses, learning languages will motivate you and your mental health.

  1. Prepare for GMAT/GRE/English proficiency tests.

If you have decided to postpone your admission, it is the best time to prepare yourself for multiple mandatory tests such as GMAT, GRE, PTE, IELTS, and TOEFL. 

Improving your profile always goes a long way in increasing the chances of your admission.

Most schools ask GMAT and GRE scores to ensure the academic and logical capabilities of applicants. You can either enrol yourself into paid GMAT/GRE preparation series. Alternatively, one can find multiple free courses and test series online.

Additionally, if you are from a non-English speaking nation, you have to prepare for English proficiency tests. Free and paid online preparatory materials and test series are also available for enhancing your preparation.


COVID-19 pandemic has, no doubt, ruined your study abroad plans. Nevertheless, looking at the current situation, universities worldwide have started online classes for their students. These universities have begun providing virtual college tours and virtual campus drives to boost admission rates using the virtual system. 

If virtual education is not your cup of tea, you can upskill yourself or learn new hobbies. Alternatively, you can also follow a philanthropic approach by joining multiple volunteering groups.

Additionally, corporate houses and small businesses have started dealing with this pandemic using the digitalisation or virtual approach. Apart from numerous online internship and job opportunities, one can also try their hand at entrepreneurship to enhance their work experience. 

All in all, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of every person living on earth. However, pursuing an optimistic approach towards everyday challenges during testing times like this is the best way to ensure sound future planning.

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