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Laws and regulations on US student visas have not changed

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Promoting educational exchange between nations forges lasting connections between Americans and their peers in other countries, benefiting local communities, and generating knowledge to solve shared challenges.
Ariel Pollock, spokesperson, US Embassy, New Delhi, explains how the US government is committed to welcome international students and promote educational exchange.

1.
Will the new US government have a fresh strategy for international students?

Welcoming international students to the US colleges and universities has been and remains a cornerstone of the US international education policy and is fundamental to the State Department’s academic exchange efforts. Successive US governments have welcomed international students to the United States and encouraged more Americans to experience the world through study abroad. Promoting educational exchange between nations forges lasting connections between Americans and their peers in other countries, benefiting local communities, and generating knowledge to solve shared challenges. This is all the more important now in the light of the challenges the entire world faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2.
According to Open Doors 2020, there has been a 4% decline in Indian students visiting the US for education. What could be the reasons?

The United States remains the top global destination for international students, attracting students from almost every country across the globe. Over the past 10 years, the number of Indian students in the United States has roughly doubled. There are currently over 1,93,000 Indian students in the United States, the second-highest number of foreign students. We are pleased to say that we have also seen a steady increase in the number of undergraduate students from India at US colleges and universities.

Choosing a place of study is an important, personal decision, and prospective students take into account several factors when making that decision, including the right programme of study, affordability, and practical experience.

·More than 4,000 accredited US higher education institutions offer a variety of majors and degree options and opportunities for students to tailor the educational path. The US spends on research and development and offers world-class laboratories and facilities.

·A US degree is both valuable and affordable. The variety of colleges and universities offer the right fit and price point for prospective students, along with opportunities to obtain scholarships and eligible on-campus employment.

·Through Optional Practical Training (OPT), international students who qualify benefit from the combined strengths of a US higher education, coupled with practical work experience in their field of expertise.

3.
In the last couple of years, more students from India were visiting the US for graduation. Is the 6% decline indicative of unsurety among the aspirants due to visa policies, increasing expenses or due to pandemic?

Many factors affect a student’s decision on where to study. Let me be clear. Neither the law nor regulations on US student visas has changed and there have been no changes in the way we adjudicate student visas and we continue to greatly value the contributions international students bring, in particular, Indian students. As always, and in particular now with the challenges we are all facing due to the pandemic, the US Embassy and Consulates across India are striving to make the visa application process as easy as possible.

An investment in a US degree today is an investment in a successful future. With the right amount of planning and research, pursuing a US higher education can be made affordable with high returns on your investment.

Finally, we recognise the serious challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has posed to universities and students alike, and we hope that international students who had originally planned to study in the United States will still be able to do so, now and in the future.

4.
Will the new government announce relaxation to the H-1B non-immigrant visa that the Trump administration, imposed restrictions on?

I cannot speculate on future policy decisions.

5.
COVID-19 has changed the education paradigm, and most universities are offering online courses. Do you think the campuses will introduce innovative methods to encourage offline learning or digital learning is here to stay?

Individual US colleges and universities are determining how to provide the best and safest educational experience for their students as we all continue to adapt to the ongoing pandemic and other related global challenges. I encourage interested students to visit our EducationUSA Advising Centers, easily available online at
https://educationusa.state.gov, to learn about the wealth of opportunities offered by US colleges and universities.



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Education

jee main 2021 news: JEE Main 2021: Approach February’s JEE as ‘practice’ test, coaching institutes tell students

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Nagpur: Many coaching institutes are advising students to not worry about the upcoming Joint Entrance Examination (JEE-Main) in February, considering physical classes at institutes started barely two weeks ago. They feel that students can make up for any setback when the exam is held again in March, April and May.

While National Testing Agency (NTA) had conducted JEE-Main twice in 2020, this time the attempts allowed have been increased to four. Every candidate has the option to appear for one or all the versions of this online test. The best performance, if attempting two or more tests, will be considered as the final result.

While the official line for all coaching classes is that students will be ready, quite a few academics told TOI that their students are nervous.

“There are phases in preparation for the exam and had it been a normal year, then by this time students would have appeared for multiple test series,” said a coaching class owner. “Test series in a physical classroom setting, something which mimics the actual environment, makes a big difference. Because of coaching classes being closed, students had been cocooned in their homes and solving test papers.”

Another coaching class owner said students are now looking forward to ‘doubt clarification’. “See syllabus part has been completed long back. Right now it’s only about getting doubts cleared and practising for the exam. But doubt clarification happens best in a physical and one-to-one atmosphere. Students are present at the institute and they all discuss among themselves and share what the teacher has told them. This collective discussion builds up their knowledge bank,” said the institute owner.

Conducting JEE-Mains is relatively easier because it’s an online test. For traditional pen-paper medical entrance exam NEET, it’s a massive logistical challenge. The proposal to conduct NEET twice a year is being considered but so far nothing concrete has been decided.



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UBSE Board Exams 2021: Board shortlists exam centres for 10th, 12th exams

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Dehradun: The Uttarakhand Board of School Education (UBSE) has announced that 2,72,313 students of the 2020-21 batch will write their board exams in 1,347 board examination centres across the state.

Pauri will have the highest 166 UBSE examination centres and Champawat has the lowest 40 exam centres in the state. Out of the total 1,347 exam centres, 223 have been recognised as sensitive centres while 22 have been earmarked as very sensitive ones.

The decisions were taken on Wednesday in a meeting chaired by UBSE secretary Neeta Tiwari. According to TOI sources, the UBSE board exams are likely to be held in late April or in early May 2021. Last year, 2,71,415 students had written board exams in 1,324 examination centres. The exams were held in two phases due to Covid-19.

According to the exam forms filled, 1,48,828 students will appear for high school examination and 1,23, 485 students for intermediate examination. The maximum number of students — 44,143 — are from Haridwar. Champawat has the lowest of 8,255 UBSE board students.



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IP University end-semester exams postponed

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NEW DELHI: Owing to poor internet services in Delhi, Indraprastha University has decided to postpone its online proctored end-semester exam scheduled for Wednesday. “The new date will be decided soon, and in a way that it does not overlap with any other exam,” said Prodyut Bhattacharya, controller of examination, IP University.

Many students appearing for the exam on February 1 complained that they were unable to register due to lack of internet services. The end-semester exams were to begin from Wednesday with an option for students to appear from a test centre in southwest Delhi’s Mahavir Enclave.

But the internet services stopped on Tuesday night. “The exam has been postponed due to irregular internet transmission and blocking of internet/mobile facilities for security reasons,” Bhattacharya told TOI.

“Many of us tried to register on Tuesday, but failed. The notice for postponement of the exam came on Wednesday, until when we were all worried,” said a student.



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