The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it many disruptions in the way we live our lives and our future plans. With many countries still unable to contain the spread and allow air travel, a lot of prospective international students have had to defer their study plans to 2021.
However, it is impossible predict what the new year will look like for us. With there being plenty of anecdotal evidence that this may be a long-term change to the way we function, it might be wise to start planning how to approach studying abroad in 2021.
With our almost 15 years helping Nigerians and other African students study in Canada, US, UK, Spain, Cyprus, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia and other European countries, we bring to you top 5 things you need to expect if you plan to study abroad in 2021. Enjoy!
1. Online & Blended Education will thrive.
The biggest change we’ve seen in the new normal is the way learning, work and personal activities have transitioned online. This is something that will continue for the foreseeable future, especially with many top companies in the world allowing work from home until 2022, maybe even longer.
This means that there is a good chance some of your study will happen in virtual classrooms and you’ll be attending them from home, most likely from the comfort of a couch or a warm bed. This also means that your smartphone, tablet or chromebook may not be enough to get you through your study, especially if you have specific requirements that require a sophisticated setup (graphic design, editing and encoding, engineering or modelling, to name a few).
I recommend putting some money aside to invest in a computer that will fulfil your study requirements, and any additional gadgets required to improve your online learning experience such as headphones, rugged mouse and keyboard, maybe a second screen and a good webcam (you want to look your best in class, don’t you?). You might also want to start preparing for online learning to make the transition a lot easier.
2. About COVID-19 and Vaccines
As the pandemic continues to take new dimensions in 2021, there are fears and anxiety everywhere particularly from international students who wish to study abroad. As it is right now, there are seceral countries who are still in partial lockdowns. This has been a major determining factors to some students and parents. However, we can say we are in a better situation globally than we were few months ago.
Given that some countries are still in the grips of the virus, while some are experiencing second waves, it is possible that your country of choice may be closed to international travellers or have stringent measures in place for any arrivals.
Now that there are vaccines in most countries and life is gradually taking a better shape, there are hopes that normal lifestyle would resume soon. Before then, it is expected that everyone observes social distancing and every precautionary measures to curtail the spread of the virus, even as more people get the vaccine.
3. more Study Visas will be given, with delayed processing time.
Tourism is one of the world’s major economic sectors. For some countries, it can represent over 20% of their GDP and, overall, it is the third largest export sector of the global economy.
Tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, impacting economies, livelihoods, public services and opportunities on all continents. All parts of its vast value-chain have been affected.
Because the pandemic has greatly affected revenue generated from tourists, most countries would focus on other categories of immigrants, which is Education tourism. Travelers on Students visas are coming to your country to “spend” money, therefore, the countries would focus on having more students come in. It is expected that more study visas will be issued as countries try to bounce back from the COVID-19 economic effects.
However, as a result of partial lockdowns still in place in most countries around the world and people still working from home, we expect delay in Visa application and prolonged response time.
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4. Surge in Flight Tickets.
As more countries start to ease their Covid-19 lockdowns, attention is returning to the global aviation industry, almost entirely grounded for months. Some passenger airlines have kept skeleton fleets flying for repatriation missions, some have converted passenger jets to use as cargo planes, but all of them would much rather return to their primary objective: flying people safely around the world.
Look past the next few months and there are factors that could push fares up, from airline bankruptcies that could reduce both supply and competition, to reduced fleets caused by retiring aircraft early.
Short-term, aircraft will continue to be much less full and airlines will be motivated to price seats to get customers flying safely in a Covid-19 world. Hopefully, the combination of increased Covid-19 safety measures alongside low prices will encourage a travel rebound, and tickets prices would fall again.
5. More demand in career change
If you’re someone who wants to build current, essential and relevant skills for the industry you’re interested in, this period of upheaval is a good time for research which fields are predicted to be in demand.
Healthcare, medical research, supply chain, IT, digital industries and manufacturing, for instance, are some of the industries experiencing a higher demand than others, a trend that is likely to continue for some time.
What you want to do, ideally, is find the intersection between your fields of interest and global (or local) market demands to find the right course to study – this applies both to undergraduate and postgraduate study.
Prospective postgraduate students looking to transition their careers from one field to another can also use this time to research and review what fields would be most valuable in the 2021 market and beyond.