Dubai: Regional demand, including from the UAE, for the IELTS test for university entrance, has survived the COVID-19 disruption, a senior official from IDP Education has said.
A growing rate of students have again started to apply for universities in English-speaking countries for the Fall of 2020, Imad Chaoui, a regional director at IDP, which co-owns IELTS (International English Language Testing System), told Gulf News.
IELTS results are required by thousands of universities in English-speaking countries from foreign students — as well as by employers from expat workers and by governments from migrants.
The lockdowns globally under the pandemic had seen a number of IELTS test centres gradually close. Meanwhile, many students hesitated applying to university for the September intake because of the uncertainty over flights and how classes would be held.
Dubai-based Chaoui, who looks after the MEA and CIS region, said increasing clarity on travel and the format of classes — as well as the recent reopening of IELTS test centres — has seen the return of examinees.
“In the UAE, the majority of examinees are going abroad to study as against migration. The most common destination from our region is the UK and almost all the universities there have already informed the students whether they will start purely online, or blended with a face-to-face programme. So we have clarity from the institutions,” he added.
Chaoui said the latest feedback from IELTS candidates shows most applicants for the fall semester are “willing to start face-to-face if possible, if they can travel. If not, they will start online. Only a small percentage are still undecided or they have taken the choice to defer until the second semester [January 2021]”.
He added that around the same flow of examinees is coming in now that the centres have reopened, compared to the period before the lockdowns starting in March. “We reopened gradually when the local government allowed us to do so, including in the UAE and Dubai. So those examinees who were already booked came back and took the test. We’re seeing the same demand more or less, though we have some global disruption around us as well.”
We reopened gradually when the local government allowed us to do so, including in the UAE and Dubai. So those examinees who were already booked came back and took the test. We’re seeing the same demand more or less, though we have some global disruption around us as well
The months of closure had seen “flexibility” from universities and “innovation” from IDP combine to assist test takers by avoiding delays or complications in admissions, Chaoui said. “Universities acknowledged the fact that examinees could not take the test at our premises, so they started allowing for tests taken online. At IDP, we immediately reacted — we developed what we called the ‘IELTS Indicator’ test, which is exactly the same test, however it’s done from home, so it’s fully online. And this allowed students to take this test and universities acknowledged and accepted the test results,” he added
More than 600 institutions so far have accepted IELTS Indicator, which was launched more than two months ago, Chaoui said.