The effects of Covid-19 have been far-reaching and wide, resulting in businesses and people to postpone their plans indefinitely and in some cases, abandon them completely. There isn’t a single business sector that has been spared by the impact of this viral pandemic and it continues to wreak havoc on our economy and future planning.
One of the hardest hit sectors has been education and this has been troublesome for people from all walks of life. Students eager to acquire education from the best institutions in the world have had to postpone their plans indefinitely, if not abandon them, or take up online learning. It is without a doubt that ease of access to technology and internet has been crucial in continuity of education but on the other hand it has left students shorthanded and bewildered – questioning the value of these high cost, high value university degrees.
Let’s analyse how students wishing to pursue their education abroad have been affected by Covid-19:
- Unable to access higher quality on-campus learning
- Lack of networking opportunities with students from all over the world
- Decreased exposure to different cultures and systems
- Difficulty in finding better jobs and professional opportunities to pursue their goals
Millions of international students have been unable to join their preferred educational institutes and get taught by world renowned faculty using some of the best on-campus facilities in the world. This has been a significant demotivating factor and with Covid-19 now into its 2nd year, light at the end of the tunnel seems to be dimming astonishingly fast. It would be foolish to say that a year or two won’t have any major effect in the long-run. This may be true for a small number of students or individual cases but for millions this is going to have broad personal, professional and economic impacts.
These students will have to delay their plans which will result in a lack of continuity, decreasing motivation and reduced number of people available to join the workforce. These impacts will be felt far and wide as businesses will struggle to keep up with the market and economies will weaken, meaning that the size of the workforce will shrink. Students will also face hinderances when it comes to their personal development as physical interaction with faculty and students helps them become better, well-rounded individuals with a clearer outlook on life.
Online learning has its benefits as students can have access to the same academic material online as they would have on-campus. However, this is not without its drawbacks. Students have had to pay the same fee as they would for regular on-campus lectures and activities, and many have found this to be unfair as they now only need access to a laptop and an internet connection to pursue their education. In such an instance the question arises; are higher fees really justified, especially in such unprecedented times? With students subjected to several hours of learning glued to their screens, how will they be able to develop crucial life skills? The simple fact remains that higher fees in such times are unjustified and should be reduced for the ease of learning.
With the closure of most flights and a number of international borders, students are unable to even enter their chosen country for pursuit of university education. This has also meant that countries where universities are still open but borders are closed, students have found it difficult to accept they have gotten good value for money. A number of students have also chosen to defer their programs by a year, in the hopes that they may be able to join their universities next year, once the pandemic subsides.
However, students have also been left bereft of the previously available opportunities such as AIESEC and becoming a member of various other organizations where they can take part in social welfare activities, helping them build important life skills, expand their horizons and build valuable, lifelong connections. This causes motivation levels to drop and even those students who will be joining their chosen universities after a deferred year of staying at home, will also find it difficult to cope up with the challenging demands of the university life.
Lack of networking through university and AIESEC-like organizations means that students will not have exposure to different people, cultures and systems. Ask anyone and they will say that exposure of studying abroad has played an instrumental role in their life as they were able to expand their world-view and become more diverse individuals, enabling them to thrive in different environments outside their comfort zone.
Another devastating effect that Covid-19 has had on students is that these students will not find it increasingly difficult to enter the workforce. Since major sectors of the global economy have come to a near-grinding halt, with low investor confidence and slow business activity, the biggest hurdle students will face is that they will opportunities few and bare. This, in turn, will lead to major macroeconomic impacts that will affect our lives for years to come.
The last major impact of Covid-19 on students is that studying abroad now or since the pandemic wreaked havoc has led to a significant drain of financial resources. Some have had to pay huge sums of money out of their savings without having a job to replenish it, whereas others have found it difficult to win scholarships as non-profit organizations have had their funding cut.
Despite all of these hurdles ABN has managed to provide its students with the best possible experience and to ensure their students get the best value for money in such difficult and unprecedented times. In conclusion, Covid-19 has proven itself to be a strong determinant in the future of students and of education itself. Many are now analysing and reconsidering their mode of delivery, some seeming to prefer online lectures, and limited on-campus interaction and activities. It seems highly possible that the future of education may operate on a hybrid model, where some activities such as lectures may be conducted online but group activities and sessions may continue as before, including extra-curricular activities.