Compared to a month ago when many countries were shutting their borders to the public, entry restrictions are slowly being lifted worldwide. Well, not all countries are out of lockdown yet; some, like South Korea and China, have closed borders again after new coronavirus outbreaks were caused by travellers. As a student, who is bound by their home and home countries travel guidelines, sometimes it may be hard to know which countries are reopened and which aren’t.
For many, the idea of going abroad is still unfathomable, the COVID-19 pandemic continues but as we’ve noted in the past few weeks, after months of global lockdown to flatten the curve and the development of rapid coronavirus testing, the U.S. states and even more countries have begun to reopen. As we go back outside, masks firmly on, we may start asking: When will international travel be allowed? Is it possible this year for me to board an aeroplane or use my passport? What’s open? What’s safe? Signs are pointing to yes if we do so responsibly and don’t face setbacks.
Borders all over Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and some Pacific Island nations have begun reopening for non-essential travel, which is more or less similar to the tourist adventures. Almost everywhere restrictions still apply, and many countries in Africa and South America are in lockdown.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge effect on higher education. It is important that you closely follow developments if you are planning to do a student exchange or enrol in a degree program abroad. This is some of the effects we have seen or expect to see in the weeks and months to come:
Immigration restrictions: Some countries still have restricted entry at their borders, with the exception of important reasons for which only citizens or permanent residents are permitted. It is still not clear how this will affect international students in the fall of 2020
Admission: Actions taken against COVID-19 can have an effect on education in such a way as to delay the granting of higher education diplomas or degrees.
Admission procedures and deadlines for application: Because the pandemic affects not only teaching but the administration and eligibility of applicants, universities may change their admission processes and delay applications or semester starting dates. For any updates, please check your desired institution’s website regularly.
In the case of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, if you can not reach eligibility criteria by the deadline for the application, contact the University Admissions Office to which you want to apply to. It may be better to submit an incomplete application.
Students who are eager to return to campus or step foot into a university abroad for the time can rest assured as we see in the list of countries below who are opening their borders and universities for students to fly in.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 8 May that Australia would be reopened after the COVID-19 crisis through a three-stage national process. Stage 3 of the system would allow international students to return to the country.
“We are open to that, and we would be working with institutions to see how that could be achieved. But it must be done according to those strict quarantine restrictions and how that’s done, and how those costs are met.”
The Australian plan shows that international students can travel from July to the country, probably with a set of restrictions and a strict post-arrival protocol that include a quarantine period. Media reports suggest that every international student cohort admitted in July is likely to come from a specific source group of countries where the virus has been regulated. This initial cohort also functions as a pilot, which in the latter months of 2020 and 2021 could result in a bigger intake.
The government’s announcement is undoubtedly encouraging educators and Universities Australia has shared their support for the programme. Chief Executive Officer Catriona Jackson said in a statement: “We know that the students and staff look forward to restarting face-to-face learning, but we shall take a deliberate and progressive approach with the safety and protection of our staff, students and communities as the top priority.
International students have been granted travel exemption by Canada.
The Canadian government says: “You will be excluded from travel restrictions if you are an international student who has an authorized study permit on or before March 18, 2020,”
An international student with COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to enter Canada by air. If you show no symptoms, you must still quarantine for 14 days from the day you arrive in Canada.
The US travel restrictions are extensive, the Presidential declaration released on 22 April 2020 suspends the 60-day entry of all ‘new immigrants’ without an approved immigration visa. The declaration does not at present concern applicants or non-immigrants (for example, students, visitors to trade, businesses and leisure visits).
Education Minister Chris Hipkins made it clear that the New Zealand government was also working on a plan to allow international students to return to the country, probably before a more wide-ranging tourist opening.
“Unlike tourists coming here for a short time, international students are coming here for a year or more,” said the Minister.
Minister Hipkins also pointed out the government’s involvement in specific education sector proposals that would require enforceable quarantine periods for students entering.
France opened its borders to the European Union and Schengen countries on June 15, excluding Spain until June 21. However, a voluntary quarantine will be required from the travellers from countries that imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine “in an uncoordinated way”, including the UK.
France will progressively start to open its Schengen Area external borders from July 1st, 2020. As French higher education is important, it allows international students, irrespective of their countries of origin, will be allowed to travel to France, priority would be granted to processing visas and resident permit applications.
We (alleduGUIDE) will continue to give you update as the world changes, the latest information on the coronavirus effects on schools here in Thailand and the world