If you were set to begin a degree abroad this autumn, there’s a good chance that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered your plans. Or perhaps you’re thinking about higher education options for the coming year, and you’re uncertain about whether or not studying in another country is still a good choice.
Whether you’ve just started your new degree and are struggling to adapt to the “new normal”, are thinking of applying in time for the start of the spring semester, or are still evaluating options for next year, read on for answers to all your questions.
1. Universities Are Still Accepting International Students
Whatever your situation, there’s one main point to keep in mind: it is still entirely possible to study abroad. Most universities, especially in Europe, are accepting international students. Furthermore, visa application centres are starting to reopen and the vast majority of institutions have created contingency plans in case of additional lockdowns, restrictions or travel bans.
It’s also worth remembering that the global outlook for the future in a post-COVID world is generally positive. Governments have begun to adapt to unanticipated challenges and numerous safety measures, such as mass testing and “track and trace” programs, have been implemented.
It is very likely that obstacles to international study, such as restrictions on movement, slower visa processing times and a tumultuous job market, will diminish going forward. In short, now is as good a time as ever to pursue higher education abroad and experience all the benefits it can provide.
2. Travel Restrictions Are Fluctuating and Need Not Stop Your Studies
Travel restrictions are of prime concern both to current and prospective international students. While many institutions are offering virtual programs, a significant part of the attraction of travelling abroad is the opportunity to experience a new city, culture and language.
Keep abreast of all travel restrictions and exemptions by consulting the appropriate government and embassy websites, so you know whether or not it’s possible to move to your country of choice in time for the beginning of the academic year. If you can’t get there for the first semester, you will likely be able to travel by the second. Many institutions, including EU Business School, have implemented flexible start dates and online and on-campus hybrid options, so you don’t have to put your future on hold. Make sure to get the details so you are clear on what your options are. And remember, individuals with student visas may also be exempt from travel limitations to the country in which their university is located.
3. It’s Still Possible To Apply for Your Student Visa
Many visa application centres halted or reduced operations significantly during the height of the pandemic. Fortunately however, this trend is reversing and most services are returning to normal. The application process can take upwards of three months, so it’s best to apply for your visa well in advance of your course start date.
Information about visa services will usually be found on embassy websites or through third-party contractors. If you are struggling with your student visa, get in touch with your school. Most have dedicated departments for supporting students through the application process.
4. Take Care of Accommodation and Healthcare Before You Arrive
Finding accommodation and purchasing health insurance should be priorities for students moving abroad.
For your first year you may prefer to stay in shared accomodation such as halls or university-owned residences; this is a fantastic way to settle in and meet new friends. If that is the case, check that they have suitable health and safety policies in place before you confirm. Alternatively, you might find that having your own space is better for your peace of mind at this time. Whichever option is best for you, your university or school should be able to provide helpful information to support your search.
In terms of healthcare, most European students will be covered for emergency treatment. However, this is not always the case. Be sure to check country-specific regulations. For individuals travelling into or out of the European Union, health insurance will likely be mandatory. It is also wise to check if you will need to have a PCR test for COVID-19 before travelling, or on arrival in your campus country. Finally, check the policies in place regarding healthcare at your school. Are they able to support you if you find yourself unwell?
5. You Can Still Get Your English-Language Certificate
Most universities require international students to complete an English-language proficiency test. It’s common for institutions to accept a range of qualifications, including IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, iBT, TEEP, Duolingo English Test and more. You will usually need to get your certificate before you apply.
As many in-person testing facilities have been forced to shut, there are usually online options available. Duolingo, for instance, offers a test that is now accepted by many universities. Similarly, in cases when it is simply not possible to take an externally provided test, some institutions, like EU Business School, have created their own tests to ensure the ability of all students ahead of the course start date.
6. Campus COVID-19 Procedures and Contingency Plans Make Studying Safe
Before picking a programme, you should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the specifics of exactly how it will be taught to make sure any changes to traditional teaching structures will still provide you with the engaging educational experience you are seeking. If you have already been accepted onto a degree course, then being aware of practicalities will help you to orient yourself when you arrive.
The vast majority of universities are running hybrid schedules, with a mix of face-to-face and virtual classes and limited time spent on campus. Most have also developed contingency plans in case local or national governments introduce new regulations.
7. New Job Opportunities Are Emerging
If you are worried that studying abroad is no longer feasible because the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the global job market, now may be a good time to re-evaluate your assumptions.
While certain sectors have slowed, others are thriving. Ecommerce, healthcare, logistics and home entertainment are all examples of industries that are growing. And as economies adjust to a post-COVID-19 world, new opportunities will continue arise.
What’s more, the experience and benefits gained from studying abroad, including language skills, cross-cultural understanding and access to a diverse network of connections, will land you in good stead when you’re ready to start your career.
You Can Still Pursue Your Dream Degree
Nobody is quite sure what the “new normal” will look like once the world fully gets to grips with COVID-19. But higher education institutions have shown remarkable resilience and willingness to adapt.
Prospective students have access to a myriad of international opportunities. It’s still possible to enrol in a course that you love, immerse yourself in a new culture, and build lasting friendships.
If you’re thinking about a career in business, take a look at EU Business School’s wide selection of programs. We have campuses in some of Europe’s most exciting cities and welcome a broad community of international students every year.