Now each and every human on this earth is aware of this dangerous virus which is known as COVID-19 or Coronavirus, which has not only caused different kinds of destruction but also killed many people in the world. As per the latest report, the number of victims of coronavirus has crossed more than 428,220 cases. And unfortunately, more than 19,101 people globally died due to this virus.
At the beginning of the year 2020, universities in the UK were still celebrating the statement regarding a new post-study work route which will allow international students to remain in the UK for 2 years after they graduate. This made the growth targets within the government’s 2019 International Education Strategy increasing international admissions from 460,000 in 2017-18 to 600,000 by the year 2030 which seems to feel achievable. Then suddenly coronavirus started to spread.
Factors affecting international student recruitment
International students make up around 20% of the UK’s total student population.
Many different factors will influence how seriously the international intake is affected at individual institutions – and how long it will take to get back on track with enrolments.
Some factors are beyond an institution’s control. Others are linked to institutional profile and responsiveness.
- The timing of the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK will give an idea whether travel restrictions into the country are in place at the start of the new academic year and, even if they are not, whether international students feel safe moving to study there.
- Some international students may postpone their studies, while others look at other places to study. In a worst-case scenario, an international student travelling to the UK will temporarily be stopped. However, there is also the possibility of a boom in the upcoming years, welcoming new applicants.
- The extent and timing of any Covid-19 outbreak in a prospective student’s home country will have an important impact. As it is seen, this year’s application round has been affected due to the cancellation of the English language and other tests.
- If we look globally, currency and exchange rate fluctuations will surely affect the affordability of international education in different destination countries.
- Universities which are quick moving and flexible will fare best. This includes those with a January start option, those that were part of the programme which can be taken online and those with international campuses or partner institutions which students can join until it is possible to return to the UK.
- The proportion of the international student body at a particular institution will also have an impact. Institutions with a high proportion of students coming from affected countries will suffer more loss. The top ten source countries of new international students in the UK are China, India, United States, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, France, Spain, Malaysia and Nigeria. Among these six of them are listed in the top ten for Covid-19 cases.
- An important factor in how soon a university is likely to recover depends on how well it treats its present and prospective international students in this critical condition of the world. Clear communications, moral and practical support are all equally essential.
The impact of coronavirus on enrolments of international students will not just be for September intake 2020. Any reduction in undergraduate and postgraduate research student numbers will last for the duration of their studies. Some present students may not return to their studies in the UK at all.
Changes in approach
International student recruitment teams are having to be imaginative when it comes to taking part with overseas students and stakeholders, working remotely, virtually and through in-country partners. The moves to less carbon-intensive approaches to international student recruitment were already high on the sector’s agenda. One positive side-effect because of the coronavirus crisis is that it has facilitated experimentation with alternative recruitment practices that don’t involve long-haul travel.
There have been critical points in international student recruitment before as well, though never on this scale. The good news is that the impact has always been temporary. Coronavirus will inevitably have an important effect on international enrolments, but those institutions that can pull through the financial impact and handle the challenges effectively can expect to bounce back.
Coronavirus: economic impact
In a broader picture, the university chief warns that the economic impact of the crisis threatens the very diversity of our Higher Education sector, and could result in the closure of smaller institutions in the economically poor parts of the nation. No one knows how deeply this virus will affect, and whether all universities will be able to tackle, at least as independent institutions. All universities are going to suffer in the crisis.
Coronavirus: ‘Universities will be changed forever’, says Sir Anthony Seldon
In an opinion piece for the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) published on 23rd March 2020, Sir Anthony Seldon vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, says: “Universities will be changed forever by the coronavirus crisis and its aftermath.
There is an opportunity to emerge with 'moral authority' and 'popular respect”. Also added that the crisis will evaluate their universities and their leadership to the hilt.
Here are five proposals for the UK university sector over the next year given by Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham.
- Universities will be required to lay competition aside and support each other through the crisis. Partnerships between challenged and strong universities should now be developed.
- An unexpected consequence of the emergency is that universities could come out with their public reputation restored. Vice-chancellors have a responsibility to rally around universities of UK’s lead, to support their actions in public and private as well to ensure that they have enough resources to coordinate sector-wide efforts.
- Universities can set the agenda to uphold that education goes far beyond income earning potential. They need to go further and embrace positive psychology, which builds the capacity of students and staff to bloom and to come through adversity on top.
- Universities in UK need to build on the opportunities that the crisis has provided to show that every university is a Civic University.
- Finally, An agreement to freeze pay increases for the next two years might be a start for vice-chancellor. It is written not because of any personal issues but to heal the present situation
The crisis will test the universities and their leadership to the hilt. They should not let go of this opportunity. The prize is coming out of it with more moral authority, popular respect and national leadership than ever before.