Shining a light of hope for the country's students, the door to higher education abroad reopened this month, after a pause of more than seven months.
Since the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of the year, students wishing to go abroad for higher education have been in an uncertain situation as countries across the globe closed their borders for an indefinite period in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.
Students who completed their primary preparations after getting admitted in different overseas universities have also become disappointed over the uncertainty.
However, from the beginning of this month, Bangladeshi students have started going to the United Kingdom. China is scheduled to reopen its doors to foreign students from next month.
In these circumstances, SANGEN Edu Limited, one of the leading overseas education consultancy agencies in Bangladesh, began a two-day long UK-Canada Edu Expo 2020 at Hotel Sonargaon in the capital on Friday, the goal being to facilitate students' admission in foreign universities. The agency is now working with 10 universities in the UK and Canada.
Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Minister of State for Shipping, inaugurated the event as the chief guest. Foreign Admission & Career Development Consultants Association of Bangladesh (FACD-CAB) President Fazi Faridul Haque Happy and Managing Director of SANGEN Edu Limited Monirul Haque addressed the function.
In his inaugural speech, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said, "Bangladeshi students are securing excellent results abroad, besides playing an important role in disseminating our culture and heritage before people of different countries. Students studying abroad are assets, no matter whether they return home or stay abroad after completing their studies."
He hoped that the expo will contribute a lot to helping students emerge from the frustration caused by the pandemic, facilitating their admission in overseas universities.
Organisers of the expo said this year the number of Bangladeshi students in foreign universities has declined compared to previous years due to the ongoing pandemic.
Meanwhile, many students have already gone to the United Kingdom since the beginning of this month. Sayem Ahmed is one of them. He went to the UK on 2 October after getting admitted to the University of Greenwich.
Managing Director of SANGEN Edu Limited Monirul Haque told The Business Standard that 14 students will go to the UK this month. Many students are also scheduled to go to China, as the country is expected to start allowing in foreign students from next month.
Although many students got admitted to many foreign universities and began online classes from Bangladesh after the outbreak of the pandemic, a good number of students have been waiting for good days to return.
According to government and non-government sources, about 25,000-30,000 Bangladeshi students go abroad for higher studies every year.
Data provided by Unesco reveal that Malaysia, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates are the top ten destinations for Bangladeshi students.
In 2017, some 34,155 Bangladeshis enrolled at various universities in Malaysia, 5,441 in the United States, 4,652 in Australia, 3,599 in the United Kingdom, 2,028 in Canada, 2,008 in Germany, 1,099 in India, 870 in Saudi Arabia, 810 in Japan and 637 in the United Arab Emirates, as noted in the Unesco data.
Sudipta Saha, counselor of SANGEN, said: "Many students have already gone to the United Kingdom for higher education in the current month. Some students have started online classes."
He informed the audience that SANGEN advises students to enroll for online programmes so that their studies continue unabated.
"I have been attending online classes since August this year. I thank the authorities of the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Russia for providing opportunities to attend classes from Bangladesh," Shafiqur Rahman, a masters student of the university, said.
"I can see all my classmates online and I can put questions to the teachers," said Rahman, who is also an Assistant Professor of History and Bangladesh Studies at Pabna University of Science and Technology.
Labiba Chowdhury, a BBA student of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, has been taking part in every class virtually.
Many students, however, are reluctant to attend virtual classes.
Pabna University of Science and Technology Assistant Professor Tahmidul Islam,who has rejected the scholarship for doing a two-year master's degree from Texas A&M University in the USA, is one such individual.
"My aim is to learn. I will get a certificate only if I attend classes online. Actually real learning is almost impossible through online classes. That is why I will not go for higher education right now," he said.