India has begun its vaccination drive for the students travelling abroad to study. State governments have started online registration for the candidates and are offering only Covishield vaccination for the time. The gap instructed by doctors is of 12-16 weeks between both the doses which is questioned by some students who are leaving in few weeks and would not be able to get the second dose.
Mansi, who is travelling for the academic purpose to Canada is about to leave in few days and just got her first dose of Covishield before three days. She said, ‘I had to leave in mid of June but since I got my vaccine recently, the gap of 12-14 weeks will cost me. I think now I have to postpone my dates and have to stay here until I get my second dose. The vaccination drive should be considered by government at least in April because that is when all the academic year ends or starts a new one.’
Every year, number of Indian students travelling overseas to study keeps getting higher. United States of America, United Kingdom and Australia are few countries among others that are preferred by Indian students to for higher education purpose. But due to pandemic, last year statistics have been affected along with this year too. countries are taking international students with strict regulations and precautions keeping in mind the current situation.
Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka including Delhi government are in taking registered ids of candidates and running vaccination drives as per guideline, according to the reports.
Kunika Khatri is from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Studied commerce and business management in her under graduation, she finally got into one of the top 10 Business school where she will be doing her masters in international management. She told Eat News that having an interest and family business at international market intrigued her for this major. Talking about how her plan got affected due to the pandemic, she said, ‘Yes, my plan has delayed by 1 year due to this pandemic. I was supposed to leave by September 2020, however due to Covid, I had to defer for this year and start program in next academic year 2021-22.’ She further added, ‘Lockdown, restrictions to travel, non-operative embassies, risk of getting infected, compromise of studies and cancellation of study tours were some of the reasons to defer.’
Kunika is soon travelling to Spain to pursue her majors. Spain has a good number of Indians and according to data released by an official from embassy of Spain in 2019 stated that around 1.2 lakh international students preferred the country for the higher education and out of which 4,500 were from India. Also, the number of India based students picking Spain for academic purpose has rise by about 30 per cent as per the information available.
While talking about further challenges she is facing in this process of travelling abroad for studies amid pandemic, she said, ‘This year I planned to apply for visa, in the month of April which I couldn’t due to lockdown yet again. According to the information, Spanish embassies are not accepting the application for long term students visas till 30th June, it may extend the restrictions further’.
She expressed her satisfaction about the vaccination drive started by the administration for students travelling overseas. She told Eat News, ‘This decision has brought smile to so many people. Our university has made a group of students from South Asia.’ But the 84 days’ time limit did concern lots of students including in her opinion. ‘Since Spain had announced to open its borders for those people who have been vaccinated both the doses approved by WHO. So Covaxin is not an option for us as of now, Sputnik is not in reach of many cities of India. Covishield is the only option which follows huge time gap. There are number of students who made every possible effort to embark on the journey to study abroad, the usual mandatory gap could be a roadblock for them,’ said Kunika.
Discussing about the formalities and precautions her college listed, Kunika quoted, ‘University has adopted all the necessary safety measures for Covid. It has incorporated hybrid teaching methods wherein 1/3 of capacity of students visit the campus twice a week and rest of the classes are online. If any student is unable to go on campus or cannot arrive in Barcelona due to visa or Covid restrictions, 100% virtual teaching will take place. Moreover, the cleaning and disinfection of common areas is done daily and in lecture room during each break.’
Pandemic has laid its impact on people’s choice of travelling abroad to study, to which Kunika agreed. According to her, ‘Covid has highly affected the process of academics for instance in person experience of education and doing group activities/ group projects is far from reality. Many colleges like mine offer study tours to other universities and companies around the globe and has to cancel such important programs due to the pandemic, drastically affecting the education experience that we had thought of.’ Skill seminars, exams, classes with guest speakers, on site internship or training, welcome week, recruiting fairs which are considered of utmost importance for recruitment are either online or been deleted altogether while the online ones do not serve their purpose as offline one does, described Kunika.
Kunika belongs to Jaisalmer, a small city of Rajasthan where number of students going to abroad for studies is quite negligible. Hence the city hasn’t started the drive yet, but Kunika got her first dose a month ago, and she is absolutely ready for the second one. Hopefully, she will get it soon.
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