Tuesday, February 22, 2022

COVID19 Impact: Declining Enrollment of Pakistani Students in US, China

Pakistan, the world's sixth most populous nation, ranked 18th in the number of students studying in the United States. Pakistani students enrolled in the US fell by 5.8% to 7,475 in 2020-21, significantly less than the 15% drop in international student enrollment. However, number of Pakistanis studying in the US in 2020-21 was even less than students from much smaller nations like Nepal which ranked 12th. Overall, COVID19 travel restrictions brought down the total number of foreign students enrolled in American educational institutions dropped to less than one million in 2020-21, the lowest figure since 2015-16.  

Pakistani Students in the US. Source: OpenDoors

China maintained its top position among the leading places of origin for international students, with 35% of all international students in the 2020-21 school year hailing from the country, according to the data released by the United States government.  The second most common place of origin was India (18%), followed by South Korea (4%) and Canada (3%). Some of these countries also experienced the largest year-over-year declines in the number of students who enrolled at US institutions. The largest such percentage decreases occurred in South Korea (-21%), China (-15%) and India (-13%).

Foreign Students Studying in US. Source: OpenDoors

The number of students in China, the top destination for Pakistani students, was also heavily impacted by COVID travel bans. Some 28,000 Pakistani students are affected by China’s tough border closures and are studying from home. Studying in China has only been possible for South Korean students who were granted an exemption in July 2020, according to reports.  

Pakistani Students in the US. Source: OpenDoors

During his recent visit to Beijing, Prime Minister Imran Khan brought up the issues faced by Pakistani students in resuming education in China. A joint statement issued by Chinese and Pakistani sides mentioned it thus: "Pakistan side highlighted that China has become a popular education destination. While ensuring safety against COVID-19, China will arrange for Pakistani students to return to China and resume classes in a prudent manner". 


1 comment:

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan students complain about German visa delays
Haroon Janjua Islamabad

https://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-students-say-german-visa-delays-put-their-education-at-risk/a-63481632

Pakistani students, who have been admitted to German universities, are worried that they might lose their admissions due to long waiting times for student visa appointments at German missions in the country.

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When Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto visited Germany earlier this month, he said the visa issue is a big concern and that Islamabad hopes to "continue to be able to engage and make that process more easier."

His German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, at the joint press conference on October 7, said that the issue is high on her ministry's agenda and promised to address the problem.

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For Farooq Rasheed, getting admitted to the University of Bonn's Geodetic Engineering program this year was one of the best things that happened in his life. He was supposed to begin his studies in the western German city last week but he's still stuck in Pakistan waiting for a visa.

The 23-year-old student from Lahore city said that he had applied for a visa in July but has yet to receive it.

"My classes started last week but the university has given me exemption, and I am attending online classes for the next two-three months," Rasheed told DW, adding that he has no idea when he will receive the student visa.

It's not an isolated case. Many other students have complained of long waiting times for visa appointments at German missions in the South Asian country.

Fatima Saleem, 23, is enrolled for a masters program in entrepreneurship management and marketing at the Otto Von Guericke University in Magdeburg. She said she has been waiting for a visa appointment since May.

"I didn't know I would have to miss my first semester due to the delay in appointments from the German Embassy, as the website stated that the waiting time is 2-3 months," she told DW.

"My classes started on October 10. I hope to get my visa soon. My university has allowed me to join later, before exams. But since there are no online classes, I am facing many issues and have to study all by myself," she noted.

Students fear losing admission
Students say they risk losing their admissions if the German missions in the country fail to make an appointment for them on time.

"I am afraid, if I won't make it before exams I might lose my whole academic year, which would have a devastating effect on my future. I request the German Embassy to kindly expedite the process now and make us a priority so that we can reach there at least before exams," said Saleem.

Students who apply for a visa appointment at the German Embassy in Islamabad are receiving an auto generated message, pointing to the long waiting times.

"Given the high demand for appointments, please note that you have to wait approximately up to more than twelve (12) months for the allocation of your appointment," it reads.

The embassy hasn't so far responded to DW's repeated requests for comment as to why students are facing such long delays in getting visa appointments.

What could be the reasons behind the long waiting times?
Rasheed believes the long waiting times are due to the fact that anyone with a passport can apply for a visa appointment and they don't actually need an offer letter from a German university to do so.

This means that people book appointments long before they have even applied for university, resulting in their taking up appointment slots that would otherwise go to deserving visa applicants who actually have offer letters.

"This creates a backlog and many serious candidates get left behind," he said, adding: "The embassy should ask the candidates to provide at least an admission letter at the time of applying for appointments so that only serious candidates who have all the documentation can be considered for visa interviews."