Acceptance to a prestigious political science program in a top Australian University was thrilling for 19-year-old Pranavi Jamwal. Pravani’s dreams came true when she was accepted to the program, which had produced Nobel Laureates and Prime Ministers.
Disruptions Caused by Travel Restrictions
There are certain advantages of physically attending classes. Students in classes can interact with other students. There is debate and discussion that takes place inside a classroom. Students can share their points of view and investigate each opinion. International students can continue their classes online from India. However, it is not the same. There is a time difference between India and Australia, which means that the students need to attend classes at 4 am online.
The logistical problem of attending classes online is not the only problem. There is a certain amount of isolation when you are not physically in the lecture room. Depending on your chosen subjects, studying purely online can be challenging, even for the best of students. Problems that Indian students are facing due to the travel ban are not limited to not being able to be physically present in the class.
Financial Strains Put on Indian Students
Studying in a foreign country takes resources. You need accommodation and transport. Going home for the holidays and having the borders closed effectively turned into a nightmare for Avtar Saini. The 23-year-old student is studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional accounting at the Holmes Institute. Avtar travelled to India to see his family in Kurukshetra on the 4th March 2020.
He did not know that Australia would shut their borders two weeks later, and he would not be able to return. His rent is still due monthly on his house in Australia, and he still needs to pay for his car. No clear indication of when Indian students will be allowed back in the country has been forthcoming. Not knowing when borders will open has forced Indian students to make difficult choices like studying online because their visas expire after a set time period.
Steps to Reopen Borders
The Australian Government knows that international students are facing a real problem due to the pandemic. Granted visa numbers have almost halved, from more than 20,000 students in 2020 to only 11,200 in 2021.
Two states have started a program to begin allowing Indian students back into Australia. They are proposing to allow 800 students back per month. This does not solve the problem that students are facing, but the Government says it is an important first step. Australia’s high commissioner to India will foresee the program. Mr O’Farrell, the High Commissioner, knows this will not solve all problems for Indian students and expressed his sympathy for these students.
The pilot program aims to prove that international students do not pose a health risk to Australian citizens.
Students don’t believe the Australian Government.
Some students do not believe the promises they have received from the Australian Government. Some believe the students are being fed false information to lure them into applying at Australian Universities. That is why many education consultants are not recommending Australian Universities to Indian students during the pandemic.
The Australian Government believes that the onerous travel restrictions will be good for the overall health of Australia in the long run. The hope is that Australia will again become a destination that Indian students will want to study in the future.