KATHMANDU, Dec 31: The education expenditure of students studying abroad has increased after most of them lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the number of students leaving for higher education abroad has dropped sharply due to the pandemic, the expenditure for education purposes has not decreased.
In the past, when students would go to study abroad, they would cover their own educational expenses by working. However, as the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced this year, students have lost their jobs and they have to depend on their parents.
According to Dilnath Puri, head of the Foreign Study Permit-NOC branch of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the number of students taking no objection letters (NOCs) decreased by 6,000 in the first four months of the current fiscal year. A total of 12,255 took NOCs this year while in the same period last year, 18,911 had taken NOC. Nevertheless, statistics show around Rs 7 billion has been released in the name of students studying abroad as educational expenses this year.
Branch Head Puri said that students take NOC to go for abroad study. But this year, the number of NOC recipients has plummeted due to the closure of educational institutions in the destination countries because of the pandemic, he said. Employment is vital for students going to study abroad. Parents of students who are already studying abroad have complained that their children have lost their jobs as the risk of a second and third wave of the corona pandemic intensifies in the United States, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and other European countries.
The ministry decided to make NOC available online in July. “NOC has been available online since August,” said Puri, “There were no international flights to countries considered popular educational destinations and also the educational consultancies could not work properly contributing to the decrease in the number of students leaving for abroad studies.”
But according to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), remittances for education abroad have not declined this year. According to Gunakar Bhatta, spokesperson for the bank, Rs 6.80 billion has been disbursed in the name of educational expenses of students studying abroad in the first four months of the current fiscal year.
“The data shows that Rs 6.80 billion has been spent on food, accommodation and fees of students who have gone abroad to study,” Bhatta told Republica. “Students may have lost their jobs abroad due to the risk of the corona infection which is why the amount has to be increased.” Parents of students doing their bachelors are seen sending the fund to support their children.
A parent said she had sent Rs 1.8 million for his daughter's education in the UK. “Until last year, we didn't have to send money to our daughter for education because she used to work and pay for her own education,” she shared with Republica. “Now my daughter has lost her job.” Because of COVID-19 pandemic, her daughter is studying at home. She added, “A new strain of COVID-19 has been found in the UK. I don’t want to stress my child so I should support her financially.”