'The certificates from the board took weeks to arrive after the results were announced.
'All this while, we were on tenterhooks arranging for the visa, last minute flight bookings, provisional loans and a Plan B.'
Two years of online learning, delayed board exams, delayed results and now the wait for visas coupled with skyrocketing last-minute flight fares... the misery faced by Class 12 students who plan to study abroad this year is far from over.
Online education due to the pandemic was just the beginning of the 'stressful' phase that will set the tone of their careers, say parents of Indian students from 'COVID batches' heading to foreign destinations for higher studies.
"This batch has been jinxed from the beginning.
"First, the students were forced to study from home for two years as they waited for schools to reopen. Then, the board exams were split up into two terms; it was the first time something like this happened.
"There was no clarity on how results will be computed.
"The second term was already delayed, as was the result which caused further chaos for us," Radha Osan, a student, told PTI.
Osan plans to study psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
"The certificates from the board took weeks to arrive after the results were announced. All this while, we were on tenterhooks arranging for the visa, last minute flight bookings, provisional loans and a Plan B.
"Thankfully, almost everything is in order now.
"My biggest worry now is that I have to leave in two weeks but I am yet to get the final clearance from the UBC. To not have everything in place even now is very stressful," she said.
Nineteen year old Akhilesh Kaushik, who plans to study computer science at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, is still struggling to get everything in order.
"I did not make travel arrangements and applied for late for a visa because there was no clarity about when the board exam results would be announced, which was a pre-requisite for the UNSW.
"As the results were delayed, I finally applied for a visa and booked the flight tickets, which had become expensive by then.
"I do not have the visa yet and there is no clarity about whether I will be able to join the semester at the end of August as planned," a stressed Akhilesh said.
The father of a girl heading to King's College in London is relieved that his daughter got her visa on time.
"Going to the UK was her back up plan.
"After all the challenges, we were very frustrated and decided to choose the UK as the backlog for student visas to Canada (our first preference) was higher. We didn't want to be on pins and needles till last the moment," he said on condition of anonymity.
Another parent, Vikram Kataria, took to Twitter to share his plight.
'Millions of CAD (Canadian dollar) collected for expedited study permit via SDS (student direct stream). Four weeks to fly out and no visa in sight despite a 20 day commitment. Need urgent intervention,' he said, tagging the prime minister's office in India and Canada.
In 2021, over 13.24 lakh students from India went abroad for higher studies; the maximum of them headed to the USA (4.65 lakh), followed by Canada (1.83 lakh), the UAE (1.64 lakh) and Australia (1.09 lakh), among others.
The board exams by the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations were split in two terms for the 2021-22 academic session. While the first term exam was conducted in November-December last year, the second term was conducted in May-June this year.
The results by CBSE and CISCE were declared on July 22 and July 24, respectively.
Usually, the board exams are conducted in February-March every year and the results are announced by May.