study abroad
You can still study abroad in 2021 at these countries. Source: Zen Chung/Pexels

With a new year on the horizon, you may be hoping for study abroad options to open up. Many countries have developed plans to welcome existing students back. Others have started processing visas for new students. So which countries should you consider? We’ve compiled the latest from the world’s largest education hubs that are ready to welcome you. Remember to take your country of origin, health condition, and travel history into account as each country still enforces its own travel rules.


Existing students may return from Christmas break in stages, provided they undergo tests and quarantine, as per official guidelines. Though most institutions are expected to start term at the same time, students are encouraged to continue studying online until face-to-face classes resume. Alongside good news that international students will receive the COVID-19 vaccine, however, came the dispiriting surfacing of a new, more infectious strain.

UPDATE: University students are advised to stay home as campuses close in the UK’s third lockdown. More information here.


Canada was one of the first major higher education hubs to reopen its borders on October 20 and has been issuing study permits since. Arriving students must quarantine for 14 days before returning to their university, which must have an approved COVID-19 plan. As a result of this quick action and support, international students now have an improved perception of Canada as a “safe and stable” country to pursue higher education.


France’s borders have been open to international students and researchers since July, and visa processing resumed in August. You can study abroad in France without restriction if you’re from a country in a green area, which includes member states of the European Union, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the UK. There are a few extra requirements if you’re from a red-area country: an exceptional international travel certificate, a sworn statement that you are free from COVID-19 symptoms, and a contact sheet providing your address in France. Follow Campus France for the latest updates.

Hong Kong

International students are welcome back, except if they have been in the UK, China, or South Africa for more than two hours in the past 21 days. As soon as you arrive, you must quarantine for 21 days at a designated hotel. You are responsible for reserving your own room and will have to show proof of accommodation before boarding the flight. Hong Kong has a stringent tracing and testing procedure, details of which can be easily accessed on the government website.


Back in June, Taiwan reopened its borders to degree-level students from 19 countries with low risk of COVID-19. Students from other countries (except China) were also allowed to apply for re-entry from July 22, 2020. Individuals must bear the cost of their own quarantine.

UPDATE: Taiwan has suspended the entry of all non-residents effective January 1, 2020, for one month in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. International students in the country are advised not to leave.


International students with valid visas may officially return to their private Malaysian institution starting Jan. 1, 2021 (which is also when visa processing is expected to resume). This is with exception of students coming from the UK, who are still not allowed to study abroad in Malaysia amid concerns over a new COVID-19 strain. You must take the COVID-19 test twice three days before boarding the flight, and once again upon arrival. Then, you will be required to quarantine for 10 days at your own expense. 


Anyone who holds a Student’s Pass may enter Singapore, as long as they get permission from the relevant agency. All travellers must submit a health declaration at airport immigration. You must isolate for 14 days at a government-designated facility; the government will cover the cost if you left before March 27, 2020.