International students struggle with remote online education

International Issues: Akash Singla speaks over a remote call about the problems he has encountered with online education while studying in his own country. (Photo by Priya Rani/ThePress)

The struggles that come with online education are proving to be difficult to overcome for some international students during the pandemic.

Akash Singla, an Indian immigrant, said online education has made life hard. He applied and was approved for a visa, but his travel was deferred due to COVID-19.

“I couldn’t go to the disconnected meeting and then I need[ed] to proceed with the gaining from my home country and decided to remain in India,” Singla said.

“As much as I would have loved to stay in India, it just didn’t make sense financially.”

“The other difficult part of mine is the language because English is not my first language and sometimes it was absolutely hard to understand some technical stuff,” he said.

The Indian government has enacted many restrictions on movements for entering other countries. But the presence of international students in an in-person classroom is beneficial, especially when there is a large time difference otherwise.

Sometimes there is a difference of more than 12 hours, and so border service officers will consider those circumstances prior to making a final decision on whether they can enter Canada, or another country.

Singla feels that colleges and universities should offer online education at a reduced cost, due to the difficulties that he and others have faced trying to adapt to their new learning environment, and also because international students are already paying triple the cost of tuition for domestic students.

He says that in the beginning it was hard to handle the new online system, but things are slowly improving, and more recently SAIT has started to provide books online as well.

SAIT’s main campus also allowed international students to live in the dorms where they provide full facilities. The campus officials ensure that regular meals, as well as academic support, is provided to them.

The other difficult part of mine is the language because English is not my first language and sometimes it was absolutely hard to understand some technical stuff – Akash Singla

“The situation of [the] pandemic generates the two choices in front of international students – online education in abroad and to go back to the home country but I decided to go back to my home and when I landed in my home country from Canada at the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, I was placed into mandatory self-isolation, but with the online education in place, I used to attend to my all my lectures and even took my exams very successfully, until now am back to proceed with my learning,” said Komal Gill, an international student.

“Online education has many challenges as well. When I was in Canada, everything was just okay, including network connections.”

“Immediately I went back home, I realized that the network coverage was very poor. It [would] not allow me to attend to my learning successfully. I ended up retaking the course on a face-to-face basis while back in Canada,” he said.

About Priya Rani 1 Article
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Priya Rani is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021 academic year.