Ms. Lisa Sherchan
Director, PAC ASIA – Study Abroad
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has gravely affected educational institutions in many countries. As a precautionary measure to prevent the outbreak, educational institutions in majority of the countries have been closed or operating classes digitally. However, the closure of educational institutions has an overarching impact not only to the students and to the teachers, but also to the overall economy. One such sector that is feeling the pressure of the ongoing crisis in Nepal is the education consultancy industry. As uncertainty looms with no sight of pandemic ending soon, the important questions that arise are, how would international admissions fare and, what impacts would the ongoing crisis have on the education consultancies and students. In the last fiscal year, approximately 63,500 students sought permission from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to go abroad for higher education. Nepali students going abroad spent NPR 41 billion. To seek a better understanding on these pertinent issues, NEF sought insights from Lisa Sherchan, Director of PAC Asia, a premier education consultancy providing service for the past 16 years. A brief note on the same is as below.
Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown in the education consultancy sector
COVID 19 pandemic and the lockdown put in place by different countries has had a deep impact on education consulting industry globally. The effect is unlike anything the industry has witnessed so far. This event has not only affected the operations of colleges (now conducting classes online) but also affected the entire year round calendar. It will take at least a year for the industry to bounce back. With global economy plummeting, and Nepalese students highly dependent on scholarships, part-time jobs, co-ops and internship, the bounce back will entirely depend on how the host countries come out of this crisis and how long would respective economy take to recover. It will also be guided by the new immigration rules and foreign student policy of the respective countries/colleges.
Education consultancies’ role to ensure the safety of the students who have gone to study abroad
This pandemic has caused havoc in health and financial safety of the students. However, in the coming weeks, we fear more for their emotional and mental health issues. The pressure to come up with tuition fee and lack of steady income may lead to depression and anxiety. Majority of the self-funded students depend on their jobs to finance their tuitions and living costs.
As official representatives, we should reach out to our students, keep them informed of both financial and non-financial offerings or opportunities from universities and the host country. We feel that it is our responsibility to help find solutions and communicate what’s best for them at the moment.
Advise to students in this current situation planning to go abroad/or who have already processed their application
International education at any point in student life is vital. The exposure one receives, acquired confidence and the network is immeasurable. We would advise students not to get disheartened with what is happening right now and not to cancel their study plans abroad. In addition, continue to research and be informed about universities, programs, plans after graduation and the way of life for an international student in this new environment that will see a different post Covid-19 pandemic world.
For the students who have already applied, I would advise them to continue their applications and be ready with full offer in hand. All universities are working from home and are available for any sort of queries should anyone have. As things fall back to normal, the students should have adequate safety net to cope with the new rules, regulations and restrictions.
The biggest challenge post lockdown to commence business as before
The biggest challenge will be SUSTAINABILITY- weathering the storm until “business is as usual”. Meeting the operational costs which are so high in Kathmandu and retaining our highly trained human resource who are our biggest asset is THE challenge. Also, in my opinion, regaining customer confidence in international education and the host country economy recovery will define the future of our industry. We are anticipating stricter immigration policies, financial aid criteria’s, costlier airfares and insurance that will determine the study plans of the students.
The above Expert Speak edition is based on the conversation with Ms. Lisa Sherchan. She is the Director at PAC ASIA – Study Abroad, a premier education consultancy in Nepal.
Thumbnail picture source: https://www.insider.com/students-hold-silent-graduation-to-help-classmate-with-autism-2019-7