Author: Anjali Rajora, II year of Master in Pharmacy, AUUP, Noida
The outburst of coronavirus which was later termed as “COVID-19” by World Health Organization was primarily seen in China (i.e. People’s Republic of China) and has now become a problematic situation for other countries too. COVID-19 episode has not just led to huge mortality rates but has also made a profound disturbance in international trade, influencing both the export and import side of the worldwide economy. Another major impact is on students as their studies are also at stake; this crisis has also placed college students at risk as now their parents find it difficult to pay their high fees.
Keywords: COVID-19; college fees; coronavirus; mental health; education
An extraordinary outbreak of unknown aetiology broke out in Wuhan City, Hubei in China during December 2019 and a novel virus named as coronavirus was found to be the cause for this. It is a betacoronavirus that infects the lower respiratory tract and manifests in human beings as pneumonia (Sohrabi et al., 2020). This virus spread rate has turned the focus of consumers towards safety rather than business, trade or partnership (Sekhri., 2020).
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is seen that the stock market removed US$6 trillion in a week from 24 to 28 February 2020 which shows that due to the pandemic spread there is the reduction in profits. In the same week Standard & Poor (S&P) 500 index also lost around $5 trillion in the US and its ten largest companies faced a loss of around $1.4 trillion (Ozili & Arun., 2020).
2. IMPACT ON COLLEGE STUDENTS
The outbreak of this epidemic has greatly turned college life of students upside down as they were going through their final studies and were preparing themselves for job and employment. But the sudden effect on their daily life has beaten them psychologically as well as financially affecting 1.7 billion students in 192 countries (Viner et al., 2020). They have to study from home as colleges and universities are closed down which is worsening their skills and at the same time they are forced to pay their huge fees (Rao et al., 20210). This epidemic has made people struggle for basic needs and thus it is difficult for parents to submit high fees especially when their students are not receiving proper knowledge through on-campus education (Sahu., 2020).
2.1. In terms of studies
‘Social distancing’ and simply sitting at home with no work made this generation more lethargic along with lack of academic knowledge because of delay in schools and colleges exams or simple promotion. Virtual class and work from home are affecting eyesight in children and elders respectively. The coronavirus pandemic has several dull sides. Around the world, people are sick, the healthcare system is overloaded, schools and colleges are closed, companies face bankruptcy, employees are losing their jobs, stock markets are collapsing and countries have to spend billions on bailouts and medical aid. And for everyone, whether directly hurt or not, Covid-19 is a huge stressor shaking up our psyche, triggering our fears and uncertainties (Pragallapati., 2020).
2.1.1. Shifting to online classes
Globally, students are facing issues like online classes to meet their education needs. Even though online classes can give students their theoretical knowledge but cannot provide practical knowledge of working and researching in laboratories (Liang et al., 2020). At the same time, professors are finding it difficult to manage classes online where they cannot have a continuous look at students. Students are busy chatting online rather than listening to their teachers on the phone (Chen et al., 2020).
2.1.2. Online exams and evaluations
Several colleges have either postponed or suspended their examinations and have promoted students to next year based on their internal assessment marks. This in turn has made students more lethargic and weak as they got the promotion without exams (Fischer., 2020). While some universities have initiated examinations through online mode, students are seeing copying their answers through from the internet. Thus, all this has impacted the education of students heavily which will also lead to challenges for them in future (Howard & Gugger., 2020).
2.2. In terms of fees
COVID-19 has suddenly led to shutting down of all companies, schools and colleges when our respected Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on March 16, 2020. Middle class and lower class families are struggling for daily survival. At this time when people are wandering for food and shelter, they cannot pay high college fees for their students as their jobs and businesses are at hold (Burki., 2020). Thus, several students are seen leaving their college studies as they don’t have enough money to pay their fees (Duong et al., 2020). Similarly, those students who enrolled themselves for hostels have to pay for this too no matter whether they are living there or not. Universities are not seen supporting their students at all and have not made any guidelines for fees reduction. Students are battling between personal, financial and professional problems. On the ground, there is no support system for college students which forces them to leave their studies in the middle as their parents are already in trauma either due to health or through money (New York Times., 2020).
2.2.1. Guidelines Issued By Authorities Regarding Fees Payment
According to UGC guidelines, the universities should understand that due to lockdown the students are not in a condition to pay fees immediately and thus, this situation should be considered. They should be allowed to continue their studies till the situation comes back to normal. Several colleges have followed these guidelines showing sympathy to their students, while others still take this as a topic of debate (University Grants Commission., 2020). Similar guidelines are issued by AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) which says that students should not be forced to pay fees till lockdown persists and universities must display this information on their websites as soon as possible (AICTE, 2020).
3. CHALLENGES FOR STUDENTS IN FUTURE
Current effect on the education of college students will have a further impact on their employment in future as they are unable to gain the practical side of their knowledge. This will make them stand at the secondary stage in terms of the job as already employees are being fired from their jobs. Even though, the government is initiating various strategies like “Self- reliant India” and “Pharma vision 2020” to promote jobs and businesses in India itself. But still there can be no alternative to improper knowledge and students have to pay for this in future by facing issues of unemployment (Huckins et al., 2020). All this will also impact their mental and psychological health, leading them towards depression (Cao et al., 2020). Increased fees of colleges and competition in the market sector may bring negativity in minds of youth which may lead them to wrong pathways (Taylor et al., 2014) (Pragholapati., 2020).
This work shows the possible effects of coronavirus on youth i.e. college students. They are seen facing emotional and mental stress. Most of the middle-class families are unable to pay high college fees and thus are struggling for their basic needs because of sudden lockdown and unemployment. For other students who can pay their fees will have to struggle in future for their jobs as they are unable to gain proper practical knowledge through online mode of classes. The guidelines issued by governments and different authorities are not being properly followed by several universities. This present effect on the younger generation will lead to devastating impacts on the economy and trade too in future as they are building lock of society.
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