Top 7 Least Friendly Countries for International Students Amid COVID-19

As the world is still facing the COVID-19 pandemic, travel bans remain in force in many countries. Depending on the situation, several governments have added or removed different places from their red lists.

International students are among those who have been affected the most due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, in particular those expected to study in Australia and China, as both countries imposed tougher restrictions, Erudera.com reports. 

In addition to Australia and China, there are several other countries that do not allow the entry of foreign nationals, including international students, in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus. Erudera’s following list shows which countries have the harshest restrictions:  

1. Australia

It has been 567 days now since Australia’s international students have been banned from entering the country. The Australian government decided to close its borders on March 20 last year, allowing entry only to Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members, travelers who have been in New Zealand over the past 14 days before departure.

The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the country would welcome international students by the end of this year, but priority will be given to Australian citizens and permanent residents. The PM emphasized that even if borders reopen, tourists will not be allowed to travel to Australia this year.

“I think they are our priorities, and then next year, I think we will be able to move to that (tourists returning). I hope we can, but we have just got to take this one step at a time,” Morrison said.

However, according to a University of Melbourne expert, Australia lacks the political will to return international students, given that there are many Australian citizens stranded abroad.

2. China

Similar to Australia, the decision of the Chinese government to keep its borders closed for 559 days now has caused many troubles to international students enrolled at universities across the country. Students have constantly voiced concerns about their situation, also claiming that higher education institutions and the government haven’t taken into account their concerns, while lecturers have also paid little attention to students’ academic needs.  

3. Japan

Since October 1, 2020, students with valid visas have been able to enter the territory of Japan and continue their studies there. Yet, new students, who hadn’t still obtained their visa before the pandemic, remain unable to apply for one, as the government has currently suspended visa issuance for Japan from all countries due to state emergency.

4. Malaysia 

The country allows all international students to enter except those from restricted areas. Students aiming to return to Malaysia to pursue higher education should submit their Travel Authorization application through the EMGS website. They can afterward download the travel authorization through the website once receiving the approval. 

5. Norway 

International students enrolled at Norwegian universities have not been allowed to enter the country from the outbreak of the very first cases in the country up until August 1 this year. But, the government decided to exempt students from restrictions after this date, allowing them to come to Norway as planned, following the improvements with Coronavirus cases. 

“I would like to welcome international students in August. It was important for us to clarify this matter now to allow students to start planning their arrival. Even though students will be able to come in August, they will still be required to abide by the applicable rules regarding quarantine and testing,” the Minister of Research and Higher Education Henrik Asheim said. 

Norway banned the entry of international students on January 29, 2021. 

6. New Zealand 

The country’s borders are closed to almost all travelers as part of efforts to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most people who do not legally reside or aren’t citizens in New Zealand must receive approval from Immigration NZ before traveling to New Zealand.

7. Argentina

Argentina has also banned from entering most people who are not residents in the country. Nevertheless, according to the government, starting November 1, 2021, non-resident foreign citizens will be allowed to enter the country, meaning that international students enrolled at universities in Argentina will be able to continue their studies on campus.

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