Mumbai: Delays, deferments and debts faced by students planning to study abroad

With anxiety looming over coupled with endless days of waiting, students planning to study abroad are facing deferment of admissions, hindrances in gathering documents, financial losses and prolonged delays in sanctioning of education loans and visas due to lockdown restrictions necessitated by the Covid-19 surge.

Kimberly-Ann Stewart, 26, has deferred her admission four times to study a Project Manager Postgraduation (PG) Certificate course from Canada. Stewart said, "I had applied for admissions to seven colleges in Canada and wanted to go in January 2020. But considering the Covid-19 outbreak in India, I had to defer my admission to September 2020. Then in September 2020, I faced a lot of delays in my process so I had to postpone my admission to January 2021."

Stewart added, "But then I had to apply to colleges again and pay the applicaton fees because some colleges in Canada do not allow more than two deferments. My visa process got delayed by nine weeks as Canada is in lockdown and I had to push my admission to May 2021. But then finally, I have now decided to fly in September 2021 because I faced delays in my bank work for my GIC funds as India is in lockdown and banks are not fully operational. I have lost over Rs 50,000 as per course application was Rs 5,959-8,907 (100-150 CAD)."

On the other hand, Ashini Patel, 26, has lost an entire year as she returned to India from Boston University (BU), United States of America (USA) due to the pandemic. Patel said, "I returned to India in March 2020 after completing the first year of my Master programme in International Affairs from BU. My classes were moved to virtual mode so I returned to India hoping to fly back in a couple of months."

Patel said, "But it has been more than one year now and I am still stuck in India as there are no signs of the pandemic slowing down. The US Consulate offices are shut most of the time due to lockdown. I want to go back in September 2021 and I am awaiting my revised I-20 which is the certificate of eligibility required to study in the USA."

While, Zameer Nawabi, 25, has been running around from public sector banks to private banks in order to apply for an education loan since the last two months. Nawabi said, "I have secured admission to pursue an exchange programme from France and Germany. But I need an education loan of Rs 25 lakhs. I need to pay my first instalment of Rs four lakhs in May 2021 but banks are delaying my education loan application process."

Sonali Vaidya, 24, said, "I am glad I opted to study in Ireland rather than New Zealand because New Zealand has recently imposed a ban on travel from India. I just completed my police clearance via the online application. Education counsellors and study abroad agencies are adding to the stress by delaying processes. I hope I get to travel and pursue my studies abroad soon."

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Free Press Journal