Roundup for Study Abroad 2021: An Indian Perspective

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What a whirlwind of a year this has been! And if you were a student looking to pursue studies abroad, or a parent of that student, or dream-catchers like ourselves – then this became all the more crazy. But as they say, all’s well that ends well. That’s exactly how we are ending 2021. But hey, wait, I am running ahead!

Same time last year, end of 2020, I was trying hard to be optimistic. Just a few months back, September intake had been canceled, and most students were now going to head out in this extended January 2021 intake. So this “Jan 21” piece had been building up for a while, unless things came crashing. There was a massive post Christmas spike. And while governments abroad and back in India supported, there was enough of a scare. At LeverageEdu, we had over one-third candidates defer admission.

But that was largely it. Things started to roll right after. We welcome a more progressive government in the US that wants to make it easier for students to come in and become immigrants. UK saw an over 3 times increase in the intake this year, and we had thousands of our own students head there to benefit from the Post Study Work Visa. And before the year comes to a close, just a week back, Australia has finally opened up its border after two years. With a competing PSW, and an intake that happens in June versus September-October for UK & Canada, Australia is not going to lose any chance to win back students, their second largest GDP growth driver!

Yes, so those are the headlines! Let’s take a slightly closer look at where we stand at the crossroads of December 2021/ Jan 2022: 

Policy Roundup 

It’s been raining happy tears for students. The world is finally opening up for those who want to latch onto the future, & become Global Citizens! And it’s not opening up just in comparison to Covid-era locks, but pretty much table-turning the entire last decade. Country leaders have identified and executed measures that have changed so much. 

  1. Canada meeting its 2021 target of 400,000+ new Permanent Residents: Canada, about a week back announced that it met its 2021 target of 400,000+ new Permanent residents in the calendar year. Immigration minister Sean Fraser mentioned a majority of these applications came from temporary workers already based out of the country. This is a huge positive as it shows a very promised recovery from the 2020 number of about 180,000 PRs granted. It not only cements Canada’s position as “the immigration destination” but also gives other emerging destinations a run for their money.
  2. USA waiving off mandatory interviews in the VISA process: Another welcoming and necessary step, USA recently announced that what used to be ‘the mandatory interview’, will now be on an optional basis, and the decision of the Consular Officer interview stays. This measure, while applied for most non-immigrant visas, also sees validity extensions for students’ F & M type VISAs till 31st December 2022 in wake of the pending backlog.
  3. Australia opening its borders for international students: By a long mile the biggest news of recent times, Australia has opened its borders for international students and has also established a travel bubble with India to bring in “Indian international students” – wow! 

The Anglo-world – aka UK, Australia, Canada, US – has its arms open. While other emerging destinations like Germany, France, UAE, etc are building infrastructure, policies, that can give them a seat at this table very soon. What also changes is the “outlook” of these students. While in a previous era, students would rely on “lowest kilometre advice”, or to say whatever advice was most easily available around them – to now trusting the Internet to do that job. Just this year itself, we had organic traffic on our platform LeverageEdu.com grow from 300,000 a month to 7.5 Million a month, a whopping 25 times increase. This one stat, tells you so much about the student of tomorrow! And when students change, do Universities have a chance not to? We had over 300 universities attend our UniConnect virtual fairs, attended by over 40,000 students. Of these 300, 220 Universities paid us to access premium features that would give them more control on the quality of students they want to bring in across programs, in line with the kind of job opportunities they see getting created at their campuses. This truly is real change! 

And last but in no sense the least, just like the entire world, students – the global explorers – also found healthcare added to their list of top priorities. How countries and their leaderships react to health crises builds or erodes trust for students. UK tripling it’s count and US losing more than one-thirds is a reflection of that as well, not merely the policies. So while countries like UK and Australia are bound to see a huge interest given their trust-building measures, US will have to fight its way back from behind starting 2022. 

All in all, the students are winning, they are getting a chance to study the right program at the right Uni, & more importantly “in the right country”. They are now getting a fair chance to evaluate higher education with a “what kind of job it gets them” question. 

This outcome-first information-asymmetries-broken new world of Studying Abroad is good to look very different from its past shadows! 

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