As we have seen and heard a countless number of times, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused mass upheaval in almost all aspects of our lives. Whether it be the job environment or the study-abroad environment, the pandemic has forced people and organizations to rethink the way they carry out operations.
While large-scale disruptions in visa numbers can be primarily blamed upon the pandemic induced scare, certain inferences can be drawn from them, and that is what Sanam Arora founder of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK has done. Ms Arora infers that changing attitudes towards broader and niche subjects has meant that Indians are broadening their horizons as well.
Making this point in a statement, she said, “Historically…the Indian mentality would have been ‘go off and become an accountant or go off and become a doctor or a banker’,” and this might have “restricted the subjects they would have studied.”
She also added, “Now what we are seeing is there is a lot more specialisation from Indian students. There is share in the pie for everyone here, regardless of what kind of university they are or what kind of course they offer.”
The introduction of the post-study work visa in the UK has also meant that Indians are looking more favourably upon the UK as a study-abroad destination. The new student and post-graduate routes that have been introduced this year by the government provide students with a clearer and more accessible path towards attaining a permanent residency in the United Kingdom. The additional flexibility comes as a relief for students, as students widen their horizons from choosing the usual to choosing to study what they prefer, even if it is not mainstream.
However, as mentioned above, visa figures for this year should be taken as more of an outlier, rather than a trend-setter, and this is reiterated by a professor of higher education at the University of Oxford, Simon Marginson.