Students face assessment challenges to studying abroad
The survey yielded some interesting results. As many as 71% of the students agreed that the pandemic has been a major roadblock for them in their pursuit of higher education abroad. Needless to say, the pandemic has hit businesses globally in a way that nobody was prepared for and, over a year later, we are all still adjusting and attempting to make the most of what we can to sustain our livelihoods.
As for most businesses, COVID-19 has also brought about a revolution in the education industry with everything becoming digitalised. It has been a challenge for all stakeholders to ensure students are receiving the education they deserve. With education becoming virtual, are students still keen to go abroad and make huge investments in their higher education? The answer is yes.
According to Zoom Abroad’s survey, 54% of Indian students are keen to go abroad to pursue their higher education for better career prospects. Even though, currently, students are not getting the complete student life experience of studying on campus, they are keen to go to another country. They are open to experiencing a blended learning approach, which guarantees their safety through having some lectures online while allowing them to experience practical learning on campus.
Students believe that, irrespective of the learning experience, pursuing their degree abroad will give them more career opportunities globally.
The survey also suggested that:
• 16% believe that a globally recognised degree could add more value to their profiles.
• 11% of students would like to go abroad to gain international exposure which will help them grow both personally as well as professionally.
• 10% said that they would consider going abroad because of the availability of professional courses that can be completed in a shorter duration.
• 8% said that their motivation to study abroad is keeping their long-term goal in mind, which is to emigrate.
Employability abroad is a key driver. Asked if they would like to work in the same country after completing their studies, 53% of the students said they would, so initiatives like the UK's recently announced Graduate Immigration Route will definitely be encouraging.
Even if it is only for a few years, students do believe that getting work experience in a multicultural environment and in a reputed company abroad gives them better career prospects in their home country.
Delays in the application process
More than a year after the pandemic started, what is the major challenge that both universities and students are facing?
Currently, one of the biggest challenges, especially for Indian students, who are being prioritised for vaccinations, is the unprecedented implementation and duration of lockdowns and restrictions that are causing a delay in their application process. Although the cities now face restrictions rather than lockdowns, a third lockdown is anticipated in September.
The Indian government recently announced that the Central Board of Secondary Education’s 12th grade examinations had been cancelled and that a different way of evaluating students had been created.
The board has adopted a 30:30:40 formula when considering the results of students from classes 10, 11 and 12. These will be evaluated on the basis of internal grades, practicals/projects/internal assessments and other data. This will also take into account the historical performance of schools, Class 11 theory marks, Class 12 theory marks and will be presented in a tabular format for easier moderation of grades.
The hope is to ease some of the burdensome calculations for the schools and help students when they leave school.
For universities abroad, this is going to be a game changer as their biggest challenge until now when it comes to Indian students has been having to admit those looking to pursue their undergraduate degrees on a provisional basis given that they were unable to evaluate the true quality of each student. With the help of the new evaluation system, universities abroad will be able to assess students in a proper manner.
Challenges still lie ahead for students who are looking to pursue postgraduate degrees. Universities are unable to provide their grades for last semester which is resulting in a large chunk of universities abroad issuing conditional offer letters to Indian students on the basis that they provide their results in order to confirm their admission. The uncertainty of when students might receive their results is putting them in a difficult situation in terms of planning their future.
Since this is not within anyone’s control, the best way to move forward would be for students to use their time to enhance their profiles as much as possible. They should do so by taking up internships and doing certification courses, which will aid them to develop new skills and also help them understand where their interests lie.
For students who are contemplating pursuing their education abroad, now is the best time to start planning. They should spend time researching their best-fit options, speak to advisors and peers to gain more clarity about the best universities and courses available out there. They should be spending time on planning their career trajectory and starting to work towards it.
Abhishek Nakhate is founder and CEO of Zoom Abroad Online, a UK-based edtech organisation which aims to empower students to take control of their future by providing them with an online marketplace of the world’s best advisors to guide them in meeting their goals.