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Published weekly, the COVID-19 Impact on South Asian students highlights news drawn from various sources focusing on South Asian students who are studying abroad and the ones who aspire to study abroad during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This edition of the COVID-19 Impact on South Asian students covers news articles from November 23 – November 30, 2020.

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India

COVID hasn’t crushed study abroad plans but students could face ‘more competition’ in 2021

28th November 2020 | The Print

The process to apply to foreign universities for the 2021 academic session has already started, and Indian students, who make up a large chunk of the international students in countries like the United States, Canada, UK and Australia, are as keen to apply like every other year, despite the fear of Covid-19 still looming large. Most universities across the world have opened up applications for their Fall semester (starting September 2021). They are, however, still undecided on whether or not to allow international students to come to campus. The decision completely depends on the respective countries’ travel regulations and COVID-related restrictions. Despite all the uncertainties, students seem to be undeterred in pursuing higher education abroad. Experts in the field of international education, however, feel students are likely to face more competition in 2021 because those who gave up on their foreign dream in 2020 are applying again for the 2021 session, thereby increasing the number of applicants.

COVID Lockdown Abroad: How Indian students in the UK are coping

24th November 2020 | Careers 360

In March, the Indian government stopped international air travel and around the same time, the UK government imposed a lockdown. Many students lost part-time jobs they relied on to support themselves and throughout the lockdown, they also ran out of their savings. Over the same period, their families in India faced financial strain as the lockdown here shut business for weeks. A small section of students also reported difficulties with Indian banks processing their loans. National Indian Students and Alumni Union, (NISAU) the UK took several measures to help. NISAU volunteers organised sessions on mental health, set up a virtual community with regular activities and reported cases of concern to the Indian High Commission. Students had a mixed experience with the universities. The ones that did offer remote access to mental health support, organised delivery of food for those in self-isolation or made hardship funds available, according to the university association, Universities UK. However, the students’ demand for fee concessions or waivers remains constant.


Exam Updates

Class 10th, 12th Board 2021: Education minister’s big remark

28th November 2020 | India TV

Competitive and school board exams next year will only be conducted after due consultation with students, teachers and parents, the Union Minister of Education has clarified. He also clarified that despite the uncertainty looming around due to COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to conduct board examinations as well as entrance examinations for admission to higher educational institutions. There have been demands for postponement of board exams to May given the continued closure of schools and teaching-learning activities being completely online. The Joint Entrance Exam (JEE)-Main for admission to engineering colleges across the country is likely to be held in February instead of January, according to officials. The rising number of COVID-19 cases and engineering admission for this year still being underway are among the reasons behind authorities contemplating the move.

Delhi University issues guidelines for online OBE semesterexams to be held from December 12

27th November 2020 | Hindustan Times 

Delhi University issued guidelines for the online open-book semester examination for second and third-year students beginning December 12. Unlike the previous semester examination that took place in August only for final-year graduates, students in third and fifth semesters will also appear for the online OBE. Essential repeaters of first- and second-year UG courses can also appear for these exams along with those wishing to improve their scores. As per the instructions issued by the exam department, students opting for writing the exam in physical mode will be provided with information and communications technologies (ICT) including computers. Like last time, students will have to bring their A4 size papers to ensure that the examination process is contactless. Those appearing from home will have to arrange their own devices and internet connectivity to download question papers and email or upload written answer sheets in PDF format. All students will submit an undertaking of not having used any unfair means in taking the examination. The duration of the examination will be four hours, of which three hours will be used for answering the questions.

NEET PG 2021 likely to be conducted In March-April

26th November 2020 | Medical Dialogues

Setting a timeline on the conduct of NEET PG 2021 and admissions of PG medical courses, the National Medical Commission (NMC), the newly constituted apex medical regulator has recently announced that NEET PG will have to be scheduled probably around March, April 2021. The new PG session for the academic year 2020-21 is scheduled to begin from July 1, 2021.

JEE Main 2021: NTA likely to release notice in December, conduct exams in February

24th November 2020 | Times Now 

National Testing Agency is expected to conduct JEE Main 2021 examination in February instead of January 2021, according to officials. The notification is expected to release in December 2020. The decision to postpone the exam for a month is being considered by the Agency due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the country.

CBSE to conduct Class 12 board practical exams in Jan-Feb 2021, theory exam dates to be notified later

24th November 2020 | Edex Live

After a lot of confusion over the schedule of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams, the board shared tentative dates for practical exams between January 1 to February 8, 2021, amid the speculation of postponing or cancellation of the exams in the wake of ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. However, the CBSE has clarified that the exact dates for the exams would be notified later. The final notification regarding the exam schedule for students of Class 10 and 12 has yet to be formally announced by the board. However, the CBSE has made it clear that there is no proposal to cancel or postpone the board examinations. Despite clarifying its position on conducting the board exams, it is not yet known when the theory exams would start.


YouTube Discussions

International education – Expectations of students and parents in the current times

23rd November 2020 | IDP Education India

In this session, meet experts taking in concerns of students and parents to understand international education as an opportunity and what should institutions do, especially during the current changing times to help students understand how they can still pursue their education abroad. Watch Video


Bangladesh

Books to be changed, exams to be dropped

23rd November 2020 | Prothomalo

The government has taken this decision on overhauling the curriculum from the pre-primary to higher secondary level. The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) has almost completed the task of revising the existing curriculum and preparing a new one in its stead. Education minister told the parliament that the new curriculum would be implemented from the year 2022. NCTB sources clarified that the new curriculum was being drawn up in light of the national education policy, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and other factors. The new curriculum was to have been implemented from January next year but has been pushed back by one year due to the coronavirus outbreak.


Exam Updates

Exams under National University and technical board after several months

25th November 2020 | Dhaka Tribune

Education Minister said that examinations, which were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, under the National University (NU) and technical education board will be conducted soon after several months. Exam schedules will be announced keeping in mind that students get a month to prepare. Some examinations under the technical board were held earlier this year, however, rest of the exams were postponed due to the pandemic in the country. On the other hand, honours final year students of last year also have four exams left as well as viva and practical. The educational institutions in the country remained closed since March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic as the government extended the shutdown till December 19.


Nepal

Schools reopen amid coronavirus scare

25th November 2020 | The Himalayan Times

Most of the schools that were closed well before the beginning of the new academic session in Dhading have resumed classes. Keeping given the protracted shutdown and its effect on the education calendar, all 13 local levels in the district allowed schools to reopen with health safety measures. Meanwhile, though schools have now reopened after a long time, the fear that students might be catching the virus is very much alive. According to Education Officer Buddhi Prasad Bhatta, schools have been trained on the ways of following health safety measures. Schools have also asked to keep a watch on students so that they don’t exchange their education materials with friends.

Authorities told to implement a framework for resuming schools

22nd November 2020 | The Himalayan Times

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration issued a circular to all local levels, directing them to implement the ‘School Operation Framework-2020 in the Context of COVID-19’ recently endorsed by the Government of Nepal. In response to a letter from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, MoFA- GA urged all 753 local governments to act on provisions stipulated in the framework for the resumption of teaching-learning activities in their concerned areas. The framework has given authority to the local levels to reopen schools that had been closed for eight months due to COVID-19, based on an assessment of the present situation.


Exam Updates

Grade 12 exams begin with a duration of tests curtailed by half

24th November 2020 | The Kathmandu Post

Students sat for grade 12 examinations from November 24 amid safety precautions in the face of COVID-19 pandemic. Students across the country took the English test on the first day that began at 8 in the morning. The three-hours examination has been curtailed to an hour and a half as the weightage for the test was reduced by 60 per cent. The examinees are taking the written examination for 40 per cent of the total weightage, additional 40 per cent evaluation would be done based on their performance in grade 11 and the remaining 20 per cent based on an internal evaluation by the respective schools. The examination board has asked all the schools to submit the marks under the internal evaluations by December 7 with a plan to publish the results within 45 days.


Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan government orders schools to reopen

30th November 2020 | WSWS.org

The Sri Lankan government has reopened schools, creating the conditions for a catastrophic spread of COVID-19 among school populations. The decision was taken in defiance of widespread opposition by parents, teachers and students. The government closed all schools on March 13 in response to rising national concern over the rapid global spread of the highly infectious virus and reopened on July 6. Confronted three months later with a sudden increase in infections, the government closed them again on October 5. Schools in the Western Province, where the highest number of cases have been reported, however, did not reopen and last week education authorities were forced to quickly close schools in other provinces.

Sri Lanka: Final decision on exam after review in December

26th November 2020 | MENAFN

The Education Ministry will take a final decision on the Ordinary Level Examination in early December after reviewing the situation. The Education Minister clarified that the decision will be taken after reviewing the progress of schools and the current situation in the country during this period. The Ministry introduced online teaching as an alternative method, but this cannot be considered as a complete alternative to that of attending school. The Education Ministry will review if all schools have managed to cover the necessary syllabus and fairness to students sitting for the GCE Ordinary Level Examination.


 

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