Impact of Covid-19 lockdowns globally on study abroad plans of Indian students

Impact of Covid-19 lockdowns globally on study abroad plans of Indian students

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SVP, Shiksha Study Abroad
Updated on Apr 27, 2020 18:00 IST

We are in the midst of an unprecedented time. All major global countries are severely impacted by the ongoing health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a temporary suspension of exams, schools, universities, global travel, and many normal day-to-day activities. All of this leaves current study abroad aspirants very concerned about their future.

At Shiksha Study Abroad, we have recently conducted a survey to understand the impact of the current situation on Indian study abroad aspirants.  The survey shared with our registered students via email, ran from 14th - 16th April 2020 and was filled by 850+ students.

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For anyone not familiar with our website, Shiksha Study Abroad ( is the largest college research website for Indian study abroad aspirants. Between 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020, our study abroad website received 16 million online visits and 192k active registered students. This translates to 1 in every 2 Indian students who go abroad from India is registered with us.

Distribution of Survey Respondents

This survey was directed towards recently active students as we wanted to judge the moods and preferences of students who are planning to go for 2020 intake and those in the early stages of their 2021 intake journey.

  • 72% of respondents planned to go in 2020
  • 27% of respondents planned to go in 2021 or later


Of those survey respondents who wanted to go in 2020:

  • 50% are at an advanced stage of their applications i.e. they have received their offer letter or already paid for the deposit or received their I-20
  • Another 25% are currently applying and 25% are yet to start their applications


In terms of the destination country of interest, we have a good distribution of all major countries.

Key Findings

We asked the students about their most important concerns at this stage. For the students who are looking for 2020 intake, the most pressing concerns are:

  1. Impact on jobs and salaries: 46% are extremely concerned about this dimension. This seems to suggest that students are already thinking about long term potential impacts on their future jobs and salaries. Universities must present facts to students to address these concerns.
  2. Other dimensions where students are extremely concerned are personal health, international travel and any future impact on stay back period. The quality of online education also seems to be a cause of worry.

The same questions were also asked to students who are planning for 2021 intake or onwards. Relative to those interested in 2020, the next year intake students were:

  • Even more worried about personal health, arranging finances, accommodation, impact on jobs & salaries.
  • And slightly less worried about application process difficulties, international travel, quality of online education, impact on stay back period.

After knowing which areas the students were most concerned about, we wanted to know if the current situation has impacted their study abroad plans in any way. From those who want to go abroad this year:

  • Very few students (11%) are strongly considering canceling their plans and 41% are strongly confirming they plan to go and have not changed their plan.
  • 50% are considering the possibility of deferring their plan to future intake and 76% of students are likely to see how the situation evolves.

This seems to suggest that if the situation turns around, universities still have a good chance of rescuing their intake. A very similar pattern emerged in the case of aspirants for 2021 or later.

(Note for this question: We deliberately did not force the students to pick only one of these options because the underlying situation is changing quite dynamically and forced preference taken on a particular day may not hold true in future weeks as the situation changes. We believe students at this stage have multiple options open in front of them and these results also reflect the same)

Given the recent experience with Australian universities, where a majority of them are not deciding to offer online classes for intake starting in July, we wanted to understand how will students react if a similar situation played out in other countries? This question was only asked for students interested in 2020 intake.

A majority of students (61%) have suggested they will defer to future intake while 26% have indicated their willingness to enroll in online classes.


While the above represents a general picture, we also looked at this data from the destination country of interest of the survey respondent.


  • Canada and the USA are two countries where there seems to be a maximum willingness to enroll online. However, these are countries that also have a maximum time difference with India. So when classes are conducted during daytime in these countries, it will be night in India and this can become an impediment in their uptake.
  • A much higher percentage of respondents who are interested in Australia are likely to defer to the next intake (78%). This could be due to the availability of some courses in Oct-Nov intake or due to the requirement of high upfront deposit amounts.

For students who are interested in 2021 or future intakes, we wanted to know if the current situation is likely to have an impact on them changing their study destination. Since every country has its own dynamics, it made more sense to look at this data from the destination country of interest of the survey respondent.

  • It seems that students who are interested in Australia are most likely to change their country preference (69% are likely), while those interested in the UK are least likely to change their country preference (only 25% are likely).

We will be planning more surveys in the future. If you have a suggestion for future surveys or are interested to see another slice & dice of the current survey, please write to me at

Check out our coverage of how COVID-19 is affecting universities, international students and study abroad aspirants

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About the Author
Written by
Simrandeep null
SVP, Shiksha Study Abroad

Simran is responsible for the Shiksha Study Abroad website and its counselling services. You can reach him on

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