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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 30 – December 07, 2020.

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India

Indian students are not likely to cancel their plans to study in the UK

05th December 2020 | The Times of India

The UK government is working to ensure that existing visa processes are as flexible as possible as the number of Indian students studying in the UK has been going up. British Council has been working closely with students, parents, agents and counsellors in India to understand their concerns and queries, since the outbreak of the pandemic. Students value, and aspire for, a higher education degree from coveted international universities, however, their concerns include the visa application process, employability, and health and safety, given the current situation. To understand student sentiment during the pandemic, the British Council surveyed to understand how students are adapting their study abroad plans. The survey responses gave a snapshot of Indian students’ current study abroad plans that 65% of Indian undergraduates and 59% of postgraduates who had planned to study in the UK in 2020/21 said they are “not at all likely” to cancel or delay their plans.

Indian students suffered the most during COVID-19 as digital India failed to provide internet connectivity

05th December 2020 | The Leaflet

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when online classes were started, the majority of the students could not connect because there were no internet connections in their homes. South Asia, along with sub-Saharan Africa, was the most affected region, and thereby Indian students suffered the most in absolute numbers because of being the region’s most populated country. In South Asia, only 117 million children and youth under 25 years had access to the internet while 768 million had no access during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of students without access was 449 million and 282 million respectively in the categories of school-age and youth. It may be mentioned that India’s Internet penetration is about 50 per cent now, compared to 34.8 per cent in 2016. The quality of internet connection is also very poor in general and in rural areas in particular.

European universities welcome Indian students for Fall 2021 admissions

02nd December 2020 | India Today

More than 9000 Indian students participated in interactive webinars with leading European universities to find out about opportunities and options in 2021 for higher education in the European Union Member States, as part of the fifth edition of the European Higher Education Virtual Fair India 2020 (EHEVF) held online from 25-27 November 2020. The success of the Virtual Fair is a standing testimony of the interest amongst Indian students to pursue their higher education in Europe. The large participation from European universities also highlights the growing interest of these institutes to engage with Indian students. Over the last five years, the number of Indians studying in Europe has significantly increased, also thanks to the increased efforts and interests of the European Member States to host Indian students, as part of their overall partnership with India.  


Exam Updates

In the second round of open-book exams, most Delhi University students opt for online over offline mode

6th December 2020 | The Indian Express 

With Delhi University set to commence its second round of Open Book Examination (OBE) on December 12, tweaks in the exam guidelines have been made to make the process smoother. This time, the university will be conducting the exam for third- and fifth-semester undergraduate students and third-semester postgraduate students in a “blended model” — which means students can either opt to write the exam from their homes or their respective colleges, where ICT facilities will be provided. According to data shared by university officials of exam forms submitted so far, only 5,700 have opted for the physical mode, while 1,49,345 students have opted for the online mode.

Anna University to conduct arrear exams after direction from High Court

5th December 2020 | The Times of India

Following a Madras high court direction, Anna University has decided to conduct arrear exams with semester exams for its students. It also opened its web portal for students to register for arrear exams. After hearing a batch of petitions challenging the government order cancelling arrears exams, the Madras high court restrained universities from declaring all pass without conducting the tests. The registration for the arrear courses is to be carried out by colleges for November/December examinations. The web portal is open and colleges are requested to complete the registration on or before December 10. The university plans to conduct a 60-minute proctored online test for all students for upcoming semester exams following the government’s nod.

Teachers Organization Asks for Postponement of Mumbai University Exams

4th December 2020 | Mumbai Live

The Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU) requested the vice-chancellor of Mumbai University (MU) to postpone the first-year degree college exams. As per reports, the degree college teachers have suggested that the first-year examinations be postponed to end of January 2021, adding that that the university release an official circular as soon as possible. This comes in less than two weeks after the organisation, in their previous letter, claimed that several colleges have not managed to teach the mandatory 90 days before the examinations a result of the delay in admissions to first-year courses which makes it impossible to hold the examinations in December

CBSE confirms 2021 board exams will be conducted offline with pen and paper

2nd December 2020 | The Print

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) said the 2021 board exams will be conducted in “written mode” (pen and paper) and not online, amid much speculation. CBSE and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), the two boards that come under the Ministry of Education, have not yet decided the dates for the board exam in 2021 and are holding consultations with other boards and officials in the education ministry to decide the same.

Anna University’s first-year students to take ‘proctored online’ exams

2nd December 2020 | The Hindu

Anna University has issued a circular to all autonomous colleges to conduct ‘proctored online’ tests for first-year students who would be taking their semester exams in March/April 2021. The University has advised autonomous colleges to conduct a “proctored online” test for its students, including the current students in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, for the upcoming November/December semester exams. The circular has instructed the colleges to follow norms as per the government order. The order said that the University had successfully conducted the March/April 2020 semester exam in the online mode in September-end. The same pattern would be followed for the November/December 2020 semester exam and the March/April 2021 exam.


YouTube Discussions

Defining digital readiness and how it will enable education organisations to proactively meet change

1st December 2020 | Times Higher Education

A look at the rapidly changing landscape of higher education to show how the demands on education organisations are converging with the larger world of digital change, supported by real-life experiences globally. This session discusses how universities can deliver the services necessary to a high-quality inclusive student experience going forward; what delivery channels and models are available for establishments to fulfil core educational missions in today’s and tomorrow’s reality; and how can flexibility be designed into core educational systems and platforms so that business models can flex and meet the changing educational ecosystem. Watch Video


Bangladesh

COVID-19 pandemic pushes govt to delay medical admission tests further

06th December 2020 | Dhaka Tribune

With the ongoing Covid-19 taking a tougher turn in the country, authorities concerned are once again preparing to push the schedule of medical and dental college admission tests by almost three months. Earlier in October, Directorate General of Health Education (DGHE) Director-General told the media that authorities are prepared to hold the admission tests, but were waiting for the publication of the accumulated result of the HSC students as they were auto-promoted this year. Generally, medical and dental college admission tests are held every year during early October and classes start after January. In late November, a meeting at the Health Ministry decided that the admission tests will be held after February 2021, possibly in the first week of March. Confirming the matter, additional secretary (medical education) of Medical Education and Family Welfare Division under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, clarified that the decision has not been announced yet, and therefore, mentioning any specific date without the government announcement would not be wise.

Nineteen universities opt for cluster admission tests

01st December 2020 | Dhaka Tribune

Nineteen general, science, and technology universities of the country are scheduled to hold admission tests for the 2020-2021 academic year in a cluster system. The University Grants Commission (UGC) confirmed the matter via a press release. The decision was taken at an exchange meeting with the vice-chancellors (VCs) of the respective universities. The respective universities would later admit students depending on their scores and not hold separate tests. In the virtual view exchange meeting, UGC Chairman Professor clarified that there were no other options for the universities but to hold admission tests in a cluster system, due to Covid-19 pandemic. He urged the vice-chancellors to prepare for the admission tests straightforwardly and easily, keeping in mind the plight of the students and their parents.


Nepal

Sixty-four per cent children didn’t find virtual learning effective, nationwide survey says

02nd December 2020 | The Kathmandu Post

The government in June issued directives for the facilitation of student’s learning, giving students different options –online study, study through audio (radio) and audio-visual medium (TV). Schools across the country were closed from March, a week before the country went into a lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. The government even announced that it would provide free sim cards and data packs to students who don’t have access to the internet. However, different surveys show a large number of students have been left out from virtual learning. A study carried out by the National Campaign for Education, an umbrella body of over 300 organisations working in the education sector, shows virtual learning was ineffective for 64.3 per cent of students surveyed. The survey carried out among 770 students, guardians and teachers from different districts in seven provinces show the self-learning among students has also not been satisfactory. Though over 60 per cent of the schools were found to have prepared a plan for virtual learning, it was not implemented at the community level.


Exam Updates

Stakeholders want a decision on grade 10 examination as time for registration arrives

7th December 2020 | The Kathmandu Post

The government in September reduced the curriculum at the school level by a third to wrap up the current academic session by March-April. The shortening of the curricula, the government claimed, would make up for the loss of working days schools suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than two months since, it is clear that even the reduced courses will not be completed as schools have not been able to run the classes as expected. According to the chairperson of the National Private and Boarding Schools’ Association-Nepal, across the country teaching-learning has just begun with the presence of students at schools. He said other than some resourceful and well established private and public schools, others are in no position to conclude the academic session in the next four months. A majority of the stakeholders have suggested postponing the SEE by a couple of months as COVID-19 has affected study. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has started consultations after the National Examination Board called for the government’s decision as time has come to register students for the SEE to be held in 2021.


Sri Lanka

The Ordinary Level examination most likely is held in March 0f 2021

03rd December 2020 | News First

Education Secretary said the Ordinary Level Examination takes place in March 2021, the G. C. E. Advanced Level classes for those who pass the examination will commence in June or July. The Education Minister went on to note the results of the G. C. E. Advanced Level Examination will most likely be released in March of 2021. The 2020 GCE Ordinary Level Examination will be postponed as it is not fair to hold the exam as scheduled from 18th to 27th of January 2021, given that only 50% of O/L classes are in operation at present as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Education Minister, only 5100 schools of the total 10,165 schools are currently opened.


 

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