In light of the threat of continuing restrictions after Covid-19, reducing the element of risk for prospective students weighing up where to apply is essential, says Libreka’s Soumik Ganguly
The study abroad sector and international student mobility have been hit hard by the closure of university campuses across major study destinations, travel/immigration restrictions across the board, and partial or complete lockdowns across almost all major countries due to Covid-19.
While multiple surveys have shown that many students’ study-abroad plans have been impacted in the short term, there is also some positive data about deferment rather than cancellation of such plans – particularly among international students. In the mid to long term, therefore, the outlook may not be as bad as it might at first appear. Many students will still want to travel to the world’s major study destinations to kickstart their international careers.
However, not a lot has been done to help students navigate through the course of the next phase of planning and preparations that will be essential. Application loss risk remains a major issue for them, for factors that are entirely not relevant to their application profile, eligibility, or the strength of their application itself. Ongoing limiting factors – including sudden travel restrictions and visa challenges may remain long after the major lockdown period is over and are likely to be the primary reasons for the loss of an application. This can deflate a student’s motivation to study abroad.
Combatting deflated motivation
Prospective students should be granted a degree of application ‘immunity’ during these uncertain times. They should be entitled to refunds on any fees paid for applications they have since been forced to retract due to circumstances beyond their control. This would allow them to focus on applying to their choice of post-graduate programmes, whether they want to study a full-time MBA or pre-experience master’s, and whether they are looking to study in the UK or Germany, Canada or the US. In other words, their ‘new normal’ when it comes to considering their options should be the same as their old normal as far as possible.
That’s the reason behind the launch of Libreka’s Application Immunity programme. The programme verifies students’ academic credentials (degree certificate, transcripts) and uses an AI-powered match-analysis to recommend a shortlist of programmes that candidates can then choose to add to their personalised immunity programme. To ensure that all immunity conditions are met, Libereka manages the admissions process, from application prep to submission, for students’ shortlisted programmes.
The Application Immunity programme links up with Libreka’s existing blockchain-based scholarship system, which allows higher education providers to offer conditional scholarship and microfinancing options to candidates who may have a longer application cycle, keeping them in touch with candidates, while receiving their commitment to enrol.
The reduction and removal of risk will be of more importance than ever for those making life-changing decisions about their future education, and those who provide it.
Soumik Ganguly is CEO of admissions consultancy, Libereka.