COVID-19 (full form - Coronavirus disease 2019) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. The COVID-19 infection is produced by a member of the coronavirus family that has never been experienced before. This infection is transferred from animals to humans like other coronaviruses. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
Origin of coronavirus
Many health experts believe that this newfound virus namely coronavirus likely originated in bats or pangolins. The first transmission to humans was in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province of China. The first coronavirus cases were reported in the month of December of 2019. Thereafter, the virus has mostly spread through human-to-human contact. The novel coronavirus that was found in Wuhan is named novel as it has never been found before and as of March 2020, there are no vaccines available.
Almost all the countries of North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, Africa are affected by the coronavirus. 212 Countries and Territories around the world have reported a total of 4,344,513 confirmed coronavirus cases and coronavirus death toll of 292,937 deaths. The 10 most infected countries of the world are given below in the table:
|| Total confirmed cases
Symptoms of Coronavirus
- The most prevalent symptoms of this disease are high fever, dry cough and tiredness.
- The infected person may be ill with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing any symptoms.
- Some humans may also face a runny nose, blockage of the nasal and aches, sore throat and pains or diarrhoea.
- Some patients have also reported losing their sense of smell and/or taste.
In some cases, the disease can be serious and even deadly. Aged people and persons with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart prone diseases etc are at risk of contracting this disease. Also, most people recover from this disease without getting any special treatment.
Treatment of Coronavirus
There is no particular vaccine or treatment for this disease. Healthcare providers are mostly using a symptomatic approach, which means they treat the symptoms rather than targeting the virus and provide supportive care, for example, oxygen therapy, fluid management etc for infected persons, which can be highly effective.
In severe and critically ill patients, a number of drugs are being tried to target the virus, but the use of these need to be more carefully assessed in randomised controlled trials. Several clinical trials are ongoing to assess their effectiveness but results are not yet available.
As this is a new virus, no vaccine is currently available. Although work on a vaccine has already started by several research groups and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, it may be months to more than a year before a vaccine has been tested and is ready for use in humans.
Precautions to avoid coronavirus
- One should practice social distancing.
- One should avoid people who are sick or meeting in large groups.
- One should stay home if you are sick.
- One should cover your mouth while coughing, with a tissue, do not cough into your hands.
- One should wash their hands thoroughly with water and any kind of soap available for at least 20 seconds on regular intervals (could be every 45 mins.) and wash his hand every time after coughing or sneezing.
- One should try and use a sanitizer( which has at least 70% alcohol)on regular intervals.
- One should take the utmost care in avoiding touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
- Anyone who has regular contact with people with COVID-19 should also wear a face mask preferably N-95 Masks which provide the most safety.
- One should wear a mask full time for his safety and avoid getting an infection from other people who already have the disease.
Actions taken in the context of coronavirus.
- Aggressive “social distancing” measures were imposed around the world.
- Everyone should wear a mask if they step out of their home.
- The government declared Lockdowns in the many states of the world.
- Travel restrictions have been imposed in many countries so as to avoid exposure to coronavirus more.
- Spreading awareness through different mediums such a social media, News channel,
- Trying to feed poor people as they cannot earn in these kinds of situations, so providing them masks, sanitizers food etc.
- Doctors, nurses, police etc these all are working day and night to save the people for the risk of coronavirus.
- Prepared many hospitals and even built new hospitals, arranged beds and all the medicinal things required to treat corona patients in a large number.
- The testing capacity of the laboratory increased.
Impact on study abroad
To understand the impact on the higher education sector and its student mobility flows, QS had asked prospective international students whether the coronavirus had impacted their plans to study abroad. The results showed the following figures:
- An encouraging 61% of respondents said the crisis had not affected their plans to study abroad, while 27% said it had.
- Of those surveyees whose plans had been impacted by a coronavirus, 37% said they now plan to postpone their travel to next year.
- Additionally, 33% said they now plan to study in a different country.
- Only a minority of 11% said that they no longer want to study abroad.
Impact on international universities
Coronavirus has not spared anyone. Even many international universities had to close down for a few days or maybe months. Many universities have suspended their classes for the spring quarter. As per the survey of QS world university ranking on the higher education institutions, respondents stated that their institution had to carry out several measures due to the coronavirus such as:
- They are delaying the start dates for some of their courses until the following semester (19%)
- They are switching some of their scheduled courses online (50%)
- New application deadlines have been declared for their next intake (17%)
- They have postponed some of their 2020 offers to 2021 (13%)
- They are changing offer acceptance deadlines for their next intake (16%)
- As centres are closed for English language exams they are planning to conduct their own English language tests (8%)
Impact of Coronavirus on higher education in Europe
To put a full stop on the spread of coronavirus, Europe has shut its external borders for entry by non-EU citizens, unless it is “essential travel”.
- Many universities in Belgium have limited or suspended their teaching and other face-to-face activities.
- Teaching at universities in Austria will be paused until at least 3 April 2020.
- There has not been any announcement regarding application deadlines for the winter semester.
- On 13th of March, the government of Estonia declared the national state of emergency until 1 May. The Universities of the country are currently closed.
- No announcement has been made regarding university application deadlines for the autumn semester.
- On March 13, Denmark imposed a country-wide lockdown that includes suspension of teaching at universities, for at least 2 weeks.
- Land borders and airports have been closed until further notice.
- The French government has placed the country under a restrictive lockdown. Starting on 17 March, people are asked to not leave their house unless absolutely necessary.
- Universities in France have been closed until further notice.
- No announcement has been made regarding university application deadlines for the autumn semester. Changes may be decided by universities themselves.
- Many universities in Finland are moving teaching from classrooms to online solutions for the time being.
- Universities in Italy suspended teaching already in early March.
- Nothing has been declared about the university’s application deadlines for the autumn semester.
- Starting 16 March, the German government has imposed (and later tightened) a lockdown that affects all non-essential activities.
- Universities in Germany have postponed the start of teaching for the summer semester from 1 April to late April or early May, depending on which state they are located in. No classes are supposed to be held in person until then.
- There has not been any announcement regarding application deadlines for the winter semester, due to begin on 1 October 2020. These typically are on 15 July, with some exceptions. Some effect is considered likely because high-school leaving exams in Germany have been postponed.
- On 12 March, the government ordered the closure of Lithuanian universities for at least two weeks, recommending online learning.
- No announcement has been made regarding university application deadlines for the autumn semester.
- Russia has enacted lockdown measures to limit the spread of infection.
- No announcement has been made regarding application deadlines of universities in Russia for the autumn semester. Deadlines are usually not before July.
- The government in the Netherlands asked the Universities to reduce face-to-face teaching and substitute it with online solutions as much as possible.
- No statements have been passed regarding university application deadlines for the autumn semester. Delays are expected for the visa process for international students starting later this year.
- Universities in Sweden have been asked to move teaching from classrooms to online solutions.
- Applications for autumn 2020 already closed in January. Admissions results are expected to be published along the usual timeline, on 3 April for Masters and 20 April for Bachelors.
- There will not be any exceptions to application, document or fee deadlines. With questions about submitting their (potentially delayed) final transcripts & diplomas, tuition fee payments, autumn semester start date, accommodation and insurance, students are supposed to contact their university.
- On March 14, the Spanish government declared a state of emergency and placed the country in lockdown, currently at least until 11 April.The Universities of the country are currently closed.
- Many universities across the United Kingdom have limited or completely suspended face-to-face teaching.
- The UK Council for International Student Affairs has compiled its guidance for international students in the UK
- For international students currently in the UK and unable to return, the UK government has announced a visa extension.
- British universities commonly accept applications for Masters programmes on a rolling basis without deadlines. Please check with your desired institutions directly to see if and how COVID-19 might affect application procedures.
- All universities in Switzerland have suspended face-to-face teaching until 17 April.
Solutions for the problems faced by international students due to coronavirus
As mentioned above, we can get a clear picture that the international student’s study abroad dream has been affected by this crisis. So, here are the ways you can adjust to this crisis, while also not giving up on your dream of studying abroad:
1. Continue your application process if it started.
If you had planned to study abroad this year, that means you must have already started your application process. And suddenly the virus has emerged as a hurdle in between. But still, you should keep going with the application process as the academic year start of 2020 might not be lost just yet. Usually, the classes in most of the universities would start around in the months of September-October. While it’s difficult to estimate when we will be out of this crisis for sure, some estimations mention the period between May and July. And then you can start your classes abroad. In fact, some universities are still accepting online applications from international students at this time. So, try to continue going through the steps of the application process. Contacting universities for more information will be best for more clarity. If applications are postponed by the university, then it is the best tie for you to do research about visa information and work permit information, if you plan to work while studying abroad. Some universities have already extended the application dates in August.
2. Postpone your studies for the year 2021
If you have not started the application process and want to wait till the problem is solved, there are no issues, you can postpone your international studies for 2021. Just because you are not starting your classes this year doesn’t mean you can’t start researching your future study options and decide by January 2021, when the new applications start. Here is how we can help until you start applying:
- Figure out what you want to study and in which country you want to pursue. You can start with our country information page: Study abroad
- You can check the list of courses and select the course you want to pursue from here: Courses to study abroad
- Check out the programs, universities cost, etc everything you want to know about study abroad. You can also check the articles for the latest information here: Latest updates on study abroad
- Read about your study options based on careers after graduation: After graduation courses
- Read about the exams you will be in need to clear to study abroad like English proficiency exam IELTS or TOEFL and entrance exams like SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT. Prepare for your test and score a good result.TOEFL already launched a way for students to take their language test from home. You can get the details here: study abroad exams.
Make good use of your time staying at home by doing your research thoroughly, comparing your options and figuring out where you’re going to apply next year.
3. Study an online degree
Many prospective international students are considering changing their study plans altogether, and they’re looking at online study options offered by prestigious universities all over the world. Many universities have started offering more online Bachelors and online Masters as a result of the outbreak. This option will likely not delay your study plans too much, as many online degrees have rolling admissions, meaning you can apply anytime.
4. Keep learning with online short courses
No matter which one of the previous options you’re going to choose in the future, you should also not give up on your personal development right now. There is an abundance of online short courses to keep you learning and help you manage your time staying at home. Many of these short distance learning courses are also offered free of charge, and a lot of institutions provide support for people around the world. Whichever path you choose to follow, don’t give up on your education dreams and never stop learning.