A new survey by DAAD presents that the universities in Germany are optimistic about internationalization even during the Corona pandemic. The survey was taken among 171 German higher education institutions from 15 to 26 February 2021. It found that universities generally embraced digitalization in the 2020/21 academic year.
Optimistic outlook on international mobility
The findings of the survey present that most of the German universities look to the future with hope. Around 50% of universities assume that internationalisation at their institution will barely be disturbed by the Corona pandemic. Universities more than 20% believe that international mobility will gain more importance after the end of Corona. In addition, a clear majority of almost three-quarters of the universities expect that there will be a quick recovery in international student mobility once the travel restrictions are removed.
Around 32% of universities assume that the attractiveness of Germany as a study abroad country has increased as a result of Corona compared to other study abroad countries. Only 9% of the universities expect it to get worse.
Teaching methods during covid
80% of universities in Germany began the winter semester of 2021 with a hybrid model of teaching which is a mix of face-to-face and online instruction. Only 16% of universities stuck to virtual teaching. However, with the time only a good 41% of universities stuck to the hybrid model until the end of the semester, the remaining 40% eventually opted for purely virtual teaching in the semester.
Agreements with the USA, Canada and Finland
According to the survey, 26% of german universities entered into new cooperation agreements with universities of other top study abroad countries in the past two Corona semesters. The USA, Finland and Canada are its main targets. The goal of this was to help students to participate in courses abroad online.
International students could not enter Germany due to a decline in visa application
Maximum Respondents said that up to half of the new international students were unable to enter Germany in the winter semester despite having been admitted. Around 14,700 international regular students and 2,300 guest and exchange students did not obtain a student visa for Germany in the 2020/2021 winter semester. Around 50% of the German universities offered the option of taking back with a full fees refund to the students.
As per German universities, the students which are particularly affected are from India, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and Nigeria. Approximately 3 quarters of the universities offered distance learning by facilitating online courses. Along with this, around 50% of the universities surveyed said that during the past two semesters about 1 out of 2 of their students staying abroad has postponed or cancelled.
DAAD President Prof. Dr Joybrato Mukherjee, notes:
“German universities have acted quickly and courageously to minimise the negative impact of the Corona pandemic on their internationalisation activities as much as possible”. He also added “Despite major challenges in the entry of international students and the ongoing travel restrictions, only 5% of all universities completely suspended their international exchange programmes in the winter semester.” Continued saying “A quarter of our member universities were even able to establish new digital collaborations abroad due to the advancing digitalisation.”
General effects of COVID-19 pandemic at German universities
The Corona pandemic has made a serious impact on various activities and courses offered by German universities. The main effects are:
- Many Non-teaching events were cancelled at universities in Germany.
- Official trips within Germany were reduced to a minimum. Around three quarters (72%) of the universities reporting cancellations likely to be due to cancellations by the respective local organisers.
- Many Campus buildings and offices were closed.
- Plenty of Exchange programmes were cancelled.
- 50% of the universities postponed the beginning of the winter intake, because of national regulations.
- Around 62% of the German universities did not cancel their study abroad and exchange programmes in the winter semester of 2021, while 33% of the universities have discontinued only a few programmes.
Action against COVID-19 pandemic at German universities
- Since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, 9 out of 10 German universities have converted their teaching to online courses at least partially. By facilitating their staff with virtual workstations (93%), building an information website on the topic, offering virtual counselling for students (91%), they made it possible.
- 91% of the face-to-face events were converted into online events.
- Around 74% of german universities switched at least partially from face-to-face to online exams.
- Two-thirds of the universities created a Corona contingency plan. An emergency fund for students was set up, psychological counselling specifically for students with pandemic-related problems are also made available.
Sounding optimistic, the majority of German universities believe internationalization is going to be important in future. Once travel restrictions ease, a quick recovery will happen. The universities in Germany are delicately supporting international students. The majority of universities are strongly working according to the needs of international students.
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