The plight International students studying in Hyderabad Universities is becoming a curse, their life has become complicated since the outbreak of the Covid-19.
Financial difficulties, coupled with curbs due to lockdown as well as university rules, have pushed some of them into depression, it is alleged.

Most of the international students, dependent on Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships, say that ICCR would not pay them any longer as some of the students could not submit their thesis because of the pandemic.

Apart from facing financial strain, many of the international students have been stuck in hostels due to the lockdown and because much movement is not allowed outside the campus.

One of the international students from Osmania University said, “The ICCR that was sponsoring my education also said we can’t pay you anymore although the delay in my submission happened because of the pandemic. It wasn’t in my hands. We used to receive scholarship stipends from my country which stopped due to the war and the devastating situation of the country. Libraries were closed in our University. Because of the lockdown we requested the University administration to open the libraries, but they refused, saying it is not possible to open libraries during the lockdown”.

“I used to sit and work under the sun in the cafeteria with no bathrooms or water, just to finish my work. I could not use books because the libraries were closed. I was sad because my thesis would be incomplete. Then I went to ICCR and requested them to give extension of another six months so I could complete. I told them I was given the scholarship for five years and I was given only for 4 years as in the first year I self-financed. But they said no it’s considered five years even if we paid. Now I have no money to feed my kids, pay rent or bills. I didn’t even pay school fees and I am not able to put them in school this year. It’s really a tough phase for international students like us in Hyderabad as we are living here without any income at all, as foreigners are not allowed to work”, the student added.

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Sanyuzzaman Pavel, another international student from Bangladesh studying in Hyderabad, said, “Some international students who are here through govt scholarship got stuck after finishing their course.  With their monthly stipend stopped, they are facing problems. There are some who finished almost one year ago, but still stuck here. In some cases, there might not be smooth exchange medium too between countries –for example, between Bangladesh and India. Consider a family that can’t send money for one year or six months together at a time, but can send it in a monthly manner; then, there is no smooth and legal exchange channel to utilise.  Under such circumstances, if medical insurance is cancelled it creates a deep vulnerability for international students.”

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He adds, “Another thing: problems faced by international students have a university dimension. Everyone is struggling individually during the pandemic. When one has friends here, she or he is not suffering that much unlike in the case of someone who doesn’t have any friend around. Some students went back, but those who couldn’t and remained in distance from family and friends, they have been struggling much. Of course, some support systems are available but may be not adequate”.

Another international student studying in Hyderabad said, “Since the outbreak of COVID in India and the start of lockdown in 2020 our flights have been suspended and we were stuck inside campus for more than three months and inside campus just NRC canteen was open. We prepared our foods from there and we were unable to go outside. We are not allowed to cook even inside our room. The chief guardian prohibited walking inside the campus due to the pandemic. Some of my friends have slipped into depression as we’re stuck inside the hostels for long. During this pandemic our university started online classes. That is a very bad experience because in online class no one is paying much attention to studies because of the pandemic situation. While we are in depression, our professors are very strict about taking exams and giving marks. I had an accident and my hand was fractured during my exam, but my professor didn’t have mercy on me because of my hand surgery and in this pandemic situation, it is very tough for foreign students”.

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He adds, “I mean in a situation like this, instructors should be cooperative with students. And now the situation is getting worst.  Instead of completing our fourth semester, they announced summer vacation and postponed our semester by one month; so, this is also negatively impacting student morale. Our final exam was scheduled to end by June 10 and it may take until the first week of July to get our provisional certificate, but now it may take longer or might be in September. So, it is very difficult for an international student to wait for another three or four months to collect their documents”.

When contacted, Professor G B Reddy, Director of University Foreign Relations Office (UFRO) at Osmania University, said, “We are doing our best to make sure that our international students are comfortable here in the hostel accommodation provided on the University campus. Even after closing hostels for Indian students, we didn’t close the hostels for international students so that they don’t have to struggle for accommodation during the pandemic.

ICCR has extended the time limit for scholarship payments due to the pandemic. Maybe one or two students are just facing minor issues, which can be resolved. Rest assured, we have made sure that international students stay comfortably even during the pandemic”. #KhabarLive #hydnews