Studying Abroad During a Pandemic

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The thought of studying abroad in a foreign country itself is scary. But it is even scarier when there is a raging pandemic to think about. If you are considering studying abroad during these times, you probably have a lot of questions about what it is like to be an international student during a pandemic far away from home.

Studying abroad is undoubtedly an experience that will expand your horizons, help you develop empathy, and broaden your perspectives. It is an enriching experience that will definitely stay with you for the rest of your life. However, perhaps just like you, a question that many students have now is whether they could have this experience during a time where most countries’ borders are still closed. 

If this is the case for you, we are here to provide you with the answers to all of your studying abroad related questions. Below we have a list of questions we think you might have and the relevant answers to them to help you make the first step towards planning your studies overseas. 

Are Universities Accepting Applications?

We have good news, the answer is yes! Even though many countries still have travel bans put in place, most universities are accepting applications from international students. 

Here’s how it is for universities in Malaysia, Australia and the UK.


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Malaysia borders are currently open for international students (Except for students from specific restricted countries). All new and existing students from other countries are allowed to enter Malaysia with the condition of a 7 days quarantine period post arrival, which you need to pay for before arrival. 

Currently, all of the universities in Malaysia are accepting students from all over the world, although the classes continue to be conducted online due to a spike in the amount of covid-19 cases. 

In Malaysia, different universities have different intakes throughout the year depending on the course. 

For more information regarding the intakes offered and the application process in your preferred university, contact Excel Education

Universities in Malaysia are moving towards conducting hybrid learning for students, depending on the Covid-19 situation in the country. So you won’t be missing out on the whole university experience for much longer. 


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Entry into Australia for international students is unfortunately banned at the present and travelling to the country remains strictly controlled due to the pandemic. The state governments and universities are however trying their best to open borders for international students as soon as possible. 

In fact, the state of Victoria, in which two of the most famous universities of Australia, Monash University and University of Melbourne are located, proposed a recovery plan for international students to enter Australia. This is definitely a positive sign for all international students out there. 

If you are considering applying to a university in Australia, you can opt for February or July intakes. Some universities also have intakes throughout the year, providing you with more flexibility. 

For more information regarding the intakes offered and the application process in your preferred university, contact Excel Education.  

Just like Malaysia, Australia has both online and face-to-face classes for students. This is so that students who are unable to join physical classes can study in the comfort of their homes. It is, however, subject to change depending on the Covid-19 situation. 

United Kingdom (UK)

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UK borders are currently open for both international and existing students except the students returning from countries on the banned travel list. All travellers must undergo a self-isolation period of 10 days upon arrival. 

UK universities are currently processing all applications from students all over the world and the general intakes are in January and September. Some universities however, have intakes all year round. 

For more information regarding the intakes offered and the application process in your preferred university, contact Excel Education

Universities in the UK as well, are operating both physical classes and online classes keeping the students who can’t join on campus classes in mind. Hybrid classes can however change to full online classes of course, depending on the Covid-19 situation in the country.

Will You Be Able To Get a Student Visa?

As travel restrictions around the world are starting to loosen, many countries are providing visas and have updated their visa applications processes. 


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Even though Malaysia has had its borders closed for tourists since the beginning of the pandemic, students can still apply for student visas and enter Malaysia once the visa is approved. 

Students can apply for a visa to the immigration of Malaysia through their academic institution. You can track the visa application from the Education Malaysia Global Services website. You are allowed to start your studies online during this process, if you are overseas. Once the visa is approved, you are given a visa approval letter, with which your visa upon arrival in Malaysia is confirmed. 

You also need a travel authorization letter in addition to the visa approval letter before you can enter Malaysia. In addition to this, you will need to do a pre-arrival and post-arrival test for COVID-19, which you have to pay for. 

For more information, click here


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Just like Malaysia, Australia also allows students at all locations to apply for a visa. This means students will be able to enter as soon as travel restrictions are lifted without any visa delays. 

Another good news for students aspiring to study in Australia is that online study, whether it is remotely or in the country, is now counted towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa, as long as you possess a student visa during the period of study. 

Once you are able to enter Australia, it is a must for you to be quarantined in a quarantine facility for 14 days upon arrival, which you may need to pay for.

United Kingdom (UK)

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The case for the UK is quite different from Australia and Malaysia. If you are to take on online learning from a UK University, you are not required to obtain a visa. However, if you wish to study in the country you will need to apply for a visa. After you apply, you will get the decision on your visa application within 3 weeks. 

Currently in the UK, if you are forced to study online due to the pandemic, you will still be eligible for the 2 year post-study work visa, which is great news for the international students in the UK. 

Additionally, you need to take a Covid-19 test before and after arrival to England if your country is not on the green list, which you will need to pay for. You will also need to self-isolate for 10 days if your country is not on the green list. Malaysia is currently on the amber list, meaning students entering from Malaysia will need to quarantine at home.

What is it Like To Study Abroad During a Pandemic?

Universities understand the plight students are in during the pandemic, and most universities are moving towards blended learning with both physical and online classes so that no student is left out. However, the uncertainty of changing to full online classes remains, depending on the situation of the Covid-19 cases in that specific country. 

Many students as well as lecturers were introduced to online learning during this pandemic. Tutorials, classes as well as meetings with lecturers are carried online, in addition to being able to access libraries only through digital resources. 

While some students find this form of education not so effective, there are many students who find it more suitable for them than face-t0-face classes. For example, one of the biggest perks of online classes is that you can record the classes and watch them later at your own convenience. You can also join your classes anywhere, anytime. 

The cons of online learning that have been pointed out by many students is that they are unable to get the real university experience such as  making new friends, doing group work and extracurricular activities. Another major problem you might have if you are studying in a different country might be the time difference. If there is a big time difference between your country and the country you are pursuing your studies in, you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night for a 10am class. 

Hence the answer to the question of what it is like to study during a pandemic can be very subjective and you can only find out what it is really like for you once you start your studies.

Is It Safe To Study Abroad During a Pandemic and Should You Do It?

In light of the pandemic, universities all over the world are undoubtedly trying their best to make learning a safe experience for all of their students. However, it will be good to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of exactly how your course of interest is going to be taught to make sure the new form of learning will still provide you an engaging educational experience. 

Universities have hybrid learning and contingency plans to provide a safer experience for their students in case the government brings any changes to the regulations. 

Hence, if you are really interested in pursuing your studies abroad, there is nothing to be put off about because you can always speak to the university you are looking to apply for and they will definitely give you good advice on your enrollment process and any restrictions that you may need to be aware of. 

What is most important for a student during a time like this would be to be flexible and open to changes that you may have to face along the way.  

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About The Author

Mariyam Naufa
I like to keep it simple. 
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