Despite The Challenge Of COVID-19, Opportunities Remain For Indian Students Studying Abroad

Just as opportunities remain for recent graduates and returning students alike, the pandemic has presented a major challenge for new Indian students just entering higher education.

With governments around the world enforcing public health and travel restrictions, the COVID-19 pandemic is significantly limiting the ability of Indian students to study abroad. This is especially true for first-year students entering new academic programs. For recent graduates and returning students who were already studying abroad before the pandemic, COVID-19 has obviously served as a major disruption, but opportunities persist for this group of students.   

Let’s start by focusing on the opportunities that remain for Indian students despite COVID-19. For recent and soon-to-be graduates with degrees in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the job market in the United States is strong. For example, recent job placements for finance and business analytics graduates at Brandeis International Business School, where I am the dean, were among the strongest in the school’s history. This was true for both the number of recent graduates who landed jobs and in the quality of the jobs themselves. 

Despite the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, American businesses still need tech-savvy employees. And they are still willing to hire international students, despite the darkening global economic climate. At a time when the Indian economy is struggling, the US job market for technologically adept students remains strong. This underlying strength persists despite a challenging political environment. A skills shortage persists in the United States that often goes unacknowledged in political circles.   

Now, let’s move on to those who fit under the label of 'returning students'. Under current rules, returning students, regardless of whether they return to India to continue their coursework or remain in the United States, have the continuing ability to work toward legal employment status. This can be achieved under either Curricular Practical Training (CPT) — which is useful for internships — or Optional Practical Training (OPT). Because students with technical skills and STEM degrees are in high demand in the United States, opportunities still exist for returning students from India to both receive a first-class education and obtain career-building employment opportunities afterwards.  

Just as opportunities remain for recent graduates and returning students alike, the pandemic has presented a major challenge for new Indian students just entering higher education. The primary problem is the inability of Indian students to travel to the United States, whether because of travel restrictions or difficulties with obtaining a visa. This has left many new students to consider the prospect of starting an online program without receiving many of the cultural and employment benefits that come with studying abroad. The United States is a cultural melting pot of ideas from international students all over the world — the advantage of studying there is unparalleled worldwide. 

The impact of COVID-19 will continue to be felt as the calendar turns to 2021. But there is hope — both for students’ career prospects and for the sustained success of the US economy — that global travel restrictions will eventually ease. The contribution of international and Indian graduate students to US innovation in recent decades has been substantial. With this strong foundation firmly in place, opportunities will remain in the United States for intelligent and hard-working Indian students. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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