The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every sector, including education. From the suspension of classes to the cancellation of exams and student-teacher interaction on virtual modes, the Covid has taught many ‘new normal’ lessons to the sector.
Despite talks on quality of education during the pandemic and restricted mobility, people, in general, were thinking that not many parents would allow their children to go away from them to study abroad.
The trend of students, however, opting to study in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States is noticeable. Some education consultants admitted only a marginal drop in this trend and said enquiries were still there for vacant seats.
In an interview with the Observer, Renu Bitling, Team Lead of the Oman chapter of IDP Education, said, “This year there has been an increasing interest for Canada. Though we are still receiving enquiries for Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States.”
Commenting on the demand for education in European and US institutions, Renu Bitling said, “There is widespread interest amongst students to study abroad as they like to study on campuses.”
She, however, admitted that there is an impact on foreign university options mainly due to the pandemic restrictions and border closures.
“Due to this impact students are keen to pursue education with the universities abroad. However, this would mean a student might have to opt for a fully online-mode or the hybrid model which is a blend of online and face to face learning.”
Among the popular courses in demand are engineering, computer science and business programmes, but there is an increase in humanities also.
Asked, are students opting for admissions in foreign universities/ colleges even though they know they would be able to see the campuses very soon?
“Yes students who are keen to study abroad, they are opting for admissions and are fine to commence their studies online,” said Bitling.
Though there are no exact numbers available, the IDP Education, Oman Team Lead said there is a slight drop in admission percentage, “but we are currently receiving enquires from both Omani and expatriate students.”
Pan GCC there is a gradual increase in interest from students for studying in off-site campuses like Dubai and Malaysia.
Commenting on the challenges of handling applications and papers etc, Bitling agreed with the situation and said, “Due to the pandemic situation, we are providing our services and counselling sessions for the students via online platforms. We are also conducting several topic-specific information sessions ranging from careers to admission process and student visa information, which students can attend virtually,” she said.