Chances of Study Abroad Amidst Covid-19

Hi all,

As I approach the end of my university degree, studying abroad and completing a student exchange has always been something I have contemplated. Obviously the global pandemic has made things more difficult, but I would like to get some realistic advice on the likelihood and feasibility of my plans.

The plan was to head to Europe during Semester 1 2021. So from February until June 2021 to the Netherlands, UK, or Italy. I'm at the stage where I have to spend a few weeks searching for units, making arrangements, and submitting an application. I'm questioning whether is it worth taking that effort, time, and sense of hope only to be told that no International travel will be available at that stage. Further, I'm wondering if the experience might be compromised due to social distancing and travel considerations, or fewer exchange students from around the world who decide to study abroad.

Given my prickly situation, this would be the only possible time I could study abroad, as I have plans to graduate next year. I understand it's extremely hard to look into the future and predict how things will pan out. I've tried to monitor the global situation, particularly Europe and their travel restrictions and it's definitely difficult to gauge. So I'd appreciate any thoughts or insights.

Thanks in advance!

Poll Options expired

  • 19
    < No, you will not be able to study abroad starting Feb 2021>
  • 12
    <Yes, you will be able to study abroad starting Feb 2021>


  • +2

    How long is a piece of string?

  • +13

    I don't think anyone knows the answer to your question. But If I was you, I'd still apply etc and see how it goes. You might regret it otherwise.

  • +1

    I think you need another poll option - "My crystal ball is currently offline"

    I don't think you need to give up on the idea now. You could still look for courses / units to study, relevant universities, etc. Each uni will provide ongoing status updates for their courses.

    I thought Semester one in most countries starts in October or similar? I wouldn't aim for that this year, but next year could be feasible.

    Now is not the only time you will be able to study abroad; you can do that at any time during your life. You just need to make it happen when it is feasible.

  • +14

    2021: just don't commit to anything non refundable, if in doubt ask and get it in writing.

  • +2

    Thanks for the responses everyone! I think the upside outweighs the downside of not applying. So seems to be the way forward. I'll need to find a way to lower my expectations so I don't get my hopes up too high though.

  • +2

    So long as you're not outlaying some serious (or even non-refunable) cash, you have nothing to lose by doing the groundwork now and seeing how the situation unfolds. If it doesn't go ahead, you've really lost nothing aside from the time you put in to preparing everything for the application, while if it does go ahead that's great news, and you're not disappointed because you could have gone but didn't apply.

  • +3

    Check with your uni, too. A lot of uni's are stopping study abroad for the time being as whilst you are studying overseas, they still have a duty of care towards you, and their insurance policies and similar won't cover you whilst the covid pandemic is still active.

    Internships have been similarly affected, now and during the the short-to-medium term whilst they wait for more clarity.

    • As of now, they're still accepting and encouraging applications for S1 2021 which is why I'm a bit confused. I'd imagine they wouldn't send students abroad unless their insurance policies would cover them?

      • +1

        Go for it and apply, then - you can make the decision whether to go once you know whether you've been accepted or not :)

  • +1

    I got an email earlier today from Swinburne University outlining an opportunity for 2021:

    "Hi Mark,

    We know the possibility of travel right now seems uncertain, but planning ahead could see you setting off in 2021 on the adventure of a lifetime. Best of all? It could all be paid for.

    What is it?
    The New Colombo Plan Scholarship is a highly prestigious opportunity, with up to ten places available for successful students. We are holding information sessions throughout May, with the application deadline closing on 12 June 2020. If successful, you would commence your experience between 1 January – 31 December 2021*.

    Why apply?
    The scholarship is worth up to $70,000 (covering tuition fees, travel costs, monthly allowance and language lessons)
    You can choose from 40 countries in the Indo-Pacific region
    You’ll get to experience a new culture, build a professional network and enhance your CV.

    What's next?
    To get started, please review the eligibility criteria and register now for one of our upcoming information sessions:

    Register now

    *Please note that this program is subject to change and will proceed if deemed safe by Swinburne and the Australian government."

    I'd say that other universities will likely do something similar to gauge interest in case such travel is possible by then.

    • I had mine mostly paid for my Monash, free accommodation and $2.5k spending money which was more than enough for the country. They sent unlimited students and you only needed a wam of 50%. I think they're still encouraging applications

      • Sunway was awesome.

  • +3

    I know several people who had planned to travel in the second half of 2020, who now cannot.
    I don't know if 2021 will be different, but make sure you have alternatives in line if it turns out you cannot travel. There have been issues around getting into necessary courses and arranging accommodation in Australia, as they had planned to vacate for the second half of the year.
    Another acquaintance had both some non-refundable costs and a Uni demanding repayment of a grant.

    So I would suggest being cautious, and seeking to make a few irrevocable commitments as possible until as close to the time as possible.

    All this presumes you are accepting of the likely ongoing travel hassles potential quarantine periods on arrival, limited flight options etc.

    • +1

      Yeah the travel hassles are something I did not factor. I'm guessing added checks, potential 14 day quarantine period etc. Logistically air travel is going to be different going forward.

  • +1

    Cross checking courses, making arrangements etc isn't too burdensome to do now even if it falls through.
    I was due to do a monthlong course in Europe in March - April this year which was cancelled 3 days before I was due to fly out. These things happen, but I think you'll have a bit more notice than I did if it does fall through.

  • +1

    Hey Op, I really doubt that travel to Europe will be possible by early 2021 & even if it is I’m not sure you’d want to risk it. The first wave of the virus is on a downward curve in most countries with a lockdown in effect (, but there’s no telling how well things will go when lockdowns are eased & second waves occur.

    When second waves occur & borders are potentially closed again post you potentially leaving to study abroad, do you really want to be stuck in a foreign country, possibly in a foreign hospital in the event you contract Covid 19? Not to mention there is no way overseas medical insurance will cover for potential Covid 19 contraction at the moment, so in the event you got sick overseas that would be a costly endeavour.

    We have no vaccine currently so controlling this virus is totally dependant on distancing, border control, testing & isolation & personal hygiene measures. I think this situation is unfortunately far from over.

    That said I think studying overseas is a wonderful opportunity. Everyone I know (friends & family) who has had the chance to do so has found it to be an incredible experience, I’m just not sure it’s the right time at the moment.

    • Thank you for your thought out response. A lot of important points to consider. I do think you are correct though, so, unfortunately, study abroad may have to be sidelined for now.

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