The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the world, plunging the immediate future of Nepali students into uncertainty.
Thousands of Nepali students who were aspiring to study abroad are in dismal given international travel restrictions, social distancing norms and sheer uncertainty of the near future.
Every year, in June and July, students used to flood visa centers and consulates to start their paperwork to travel and study abroad. But things are quite different this year.
All their plans have been either postponed or shattered due to the pandemic.
The fall in the mobility of the students had severely affected businesses such as airline companies and educational consultancies.
In fiscal year 2018/19, the Nepali students spent around NPR 41 billion on airfare. But the figure dropped to NPR 25.2 billion in FY 2019/20 amid the pandemic.
“Students who leave around this time of the year (June/July) used to make up a significant proportion of travelers,” said Gunakar Bhatta, Nepal Rastra Bank Spokesperson.
Likewise, educational consultancies are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Educational consultancies have registered heavy losses and many are on the verge of shutting down,” said Santosh Pyakurel, Chair of the National Education Consultancies’ Association.
According to Pyakurel, around 4,000 education consultancies were in operation in Nepal before the lockdown. However, 20% of the consultancies have shut down entirely due to a lack of business following the pandemic.
“Before the lockdown, the consultancies and language institutes contributed billions of rupees to the country’s economy. However, the possibility of them getting back to business soon is bleak,” said Pyakurel.
In 2016 alone, the foreign remittances from the US, the most preferred destinations for Nepali students, amounted to NPR 110.03 billion.
“The setback we are seeing could be temporary. Once they rejoin the job market, after graduation or during their study period, they will start sending money again,” he said.
Even if, months later, the situation improves to some extent, and Nepali students could travel abroad and enroll on campus, they still have to face some severe challenges in foreign lands.