The way students’ study in other countries is changing a lot because of many different reasons. A large number of International Student Mobility travel abroad for higher education due to many reasons. According to UNESCO, there were only 0.3 million students in 1963. Still, with the passage of time this number is increasing and in 2000 it was almost 2 million and according to the latest research this figure is 6 million in 2019. It is only 2.6% of the total international student population.
In the Covid-19 pandemic schools and higher education institutions were totally closed in almost 190 countries and affecting almost 1.5 billion learners throughout the world. But in this pandemic online teaching and learning strategies emerge enormously. After 2019 this figure increased more than the past decades. In this composition, we’ll discuss the reasons, hurdles and opportunities for international students to study abroad.
Opportunities for Students
Virtual student mobilities, which involve international collaboration and online learning experiences, offer several opportunities for students to gain global exposure and increase their views. Here are a few key opportunities for students that they get in abroad:
Diverse Learning Environments
Virtual student mobilities allow students to connect with peers and educators from around the world without the need for physical travel. This diversity enhances cross-cultural understanding and exposes students to a number of perspectives and ideas. Students can participate in online courses, joint research projects, or collaborative assignments with international partners, fostering a global mindset.
Cost Savings and Accessibility
Virtual mobilities often come with lower costs compared to traditional international study experiences. Students can save on travel, accommodation, and visa expenses. This affordability makes international education more accessible to a broader range of students, including those who may not have had the financial means for traditional mobility.
Lifelong Learning and Networking
Virtual student mobilities can extend beyond traditional student demographics. Lifelong learners, professionals, and researchers can benefit from online international collaborations and courses. Building an international network through virtual collaborations can lead to future research opportunities, career connections, and a broader understanding of global issues.
Hurdles in Mobility
International student mobility faces several hurdles, and the specific challenges can vary depending on the countries involved, the academic level, and the individual circumstances of students. However, some common hurdles include:
Visa and Immigration Regulations
Obtaining the necessary visas and meeting immigration requirements can be complex and time-consuming. Some countries have strict visa policies, and delays or rejections can disrupt a student’s plans. Changes in visa policies, particularly in response to geopolitical events, can also impact international students’ ability to study abroad.
For many students, the price of an international education which includes tuition, living costs, and travel can be a considerable obstacle. Scholarships and other forms of monetary funds are limited and not all students can apply for them. Changes in currency rates and economic difficulties can also make studying abroad more expensive.
Language Proficiency Requirements
Students can also prove they are proficient in target language of programs, which is frequently English. For non-native speakers, this can be a substantial barrier that calls for language assessments like TOEFL or IELTS. It is important for students to plan and prepare themselves according to language requirements, which can differ by program and country.
Cultural and Social Adjustment
Adapting to a new culture and social environment can be challenging for international students. Homesickness, cultural differences, and feeling isolated or excluded can impact their overall health and academic performance. Universities and institutions often provide support services to help students with this adjustment, but the process can still be difficult.
Global Events and Pandemics
Unforeseen global events like the COVID-19 pandemic can severely disrupt international student mobility. Travel restrictions, campus closures, and shifting academic schedules can lead to uncertainty and challenges for students.
These hurdles highlight the importance of comprehensive support services, clear communication, and international cooperation among universities, governments, and organizations to facilitate international student mobility while addressing these obstacles.
Core Scenarios for Students
Here are discussed some core scenarios that could shape the future of international student mobility:
Recovery and Expansion Scenario
In this scenario, the world successfully recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, and international travel and education return to pre-pandemic levels. There’s a sudden rise in demand for international education as students who delayed their plans during the pandemic seek study-abroad opportunities. Countries with strong vaccination programs and effective pandemic management become top destinations. Online learning continues to complement traditional education, offering students more flexibility.
Hybrid and Digital Dominance Scenario
This scenario visualizes a future where hybrid and online learning models dominate international education. Institutions invest heavily in technology, creating boundless online experiences through virtual reality and augmented reality. Students combine online courses from top global universities with local experiences, reducing the need for extensive international travel. Traditional universities adapt by offering more online programs and international collaborations.
In this scenario, students increasingly choose to study in regions closer to their home countries due to convenience, cost savings, and reduced travel restrictions. Regional alliances between universities and governments facilitate student mobility within specific geographic areas. Countries within these regions collaborate to create joint programs and recognize each other’s academic credentials. Traditional study destinations may experience a decline in international student numbers.
International student mobility could decline in a scenario marked by persistent global challenges, including economic crises, political instability, and health crises. Students may opt for domestic education, seeking more stable and affordable options. Countries with welcoming policies and strong safety measures may attract a higher share of international students. International collaborations and exchange programs may face funding cuts and reduced participation.
Geopolitical shifts have always played a significant role in shaping international student mobility trends. Changes in visa policies, political stability, economic conditions, and diplomatic relations between countries can greatly impact the flow of students across borders. As geopolitical dynamics continue to evolve, prospective international students must stay informed about these developments.
Moreover, economic considerations also influence student mobility patterns. Affordability of education, availability of scholarships or financial aid programs, cost of living, and job possibilities after post-graduation are important factors that students take into account when deciding to study abroad. As the world economy changes, it will keep affecting what international students decide to do in the future.
The Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a remarkable amount of disturbance to the travelling of overseas students. The capacity of students to seek higher education abroad has been substantially influenced by travel restrictions, closed borders, and the move towards online learning. However, after all the crises, the good news is that international students’ mobility is rebounding.
In fact, the pandemic has accelerated certain trends and opened up new possibilities for international education. Virtual recruitment fairs, online language courses, and remote admissions processes have become commonplace. As travel restrictions ease and vaccination efforts progress worldwide, we can expect a gradual recovery in international student mobility, albeit with some changes in how programs are structured and delivered.
Things to do for International Students
Making sure that everyone is respected in educational institutions, regardless of where they are from, is becoming more important as international student mobility develops. Universities actively try to create welcoming environments that encourage students from all backgrounds because they understand the importance of different points of view.
Barriers like the need for language skills, financial limitations, and difficulties adjusting to a new culture are being addressed. To make sure that more students can afford to study abroad, more scholarships and financial options are being made available. Universities can develop encouraging learning environments that prepare learners for a globalized society by valuing differences and promoting openness.
A Bright Future Ahead
Going to study in different countries can be challenging but it plays an important role in the personal growth of students and gives them a chance to know the different cultures in the world. It can also give students a chance to get a better education and givea good professional career for themselves. In this modern age and also due to the Covid-19 pandemic many universities allow students to learn online instead of physically that can be more flexible and accessible for students.
Digital education breaks the borders, now students learn from the top universities in the world and by living in their home country. Technology continuously makes life and education better.
No doubt there are a number of issues a person should face in the process of studying abroad, these include, visa rejection, financial issues, health issues and also language speaking issues for some countries. All the stakeholders such as students, leaders and universities need to solve these barriers that can affect the education of overseas students.