The rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly impacted higher education. In recent weeks, education officials have cancelled classes and closed campuses across the world in response to COVID-19. Furthermore, institutions have switched to online learning, and have encouraged foreign students studying abroad, to return home to complete their studies.
Even if class closures, dips in enrollment, and cancellations may be something temporary, it’s difficult to predict if there will be further long-term disruptions to the higher education system.
The biggest concern for the sector right now is the large percentage of international students that allocate the domestic higher education markets. In the US, Chinese students account for 33.7% of the total foreign student population, while Indian students comprise 18.14%.
While travel restrictions to and from China have helped mitigate the spread of the virus, it has also been responsible for many stranded international students. Approximately 830 Chinese students have not been able to return to the US to continue their studies. While this may seem a small percentage of the overall international student population, the bigger question is; how long will this last? If the current restrictions remain in place, the US higher education system could be facing an economic downturn. So how should colleges and universities around the world adjust their learning styles to combat the COVID-19 impacts on higher education?
Increase Online Learning
One of the most effective tools to keep students attention and maintain access to learning has been online courses. Universities across the world have adjusted their programs to accommodate online learning.
Develop robust systems
While most colleges and universities around the world incorporate some form of online education into their courses, it’s very challenging to shift all programs online. Smaller universities might struggle under the weight of demand. Course creators should work closely with their IT departments to make sure programs are well facilitated.
Educate students on best practices
Although many students are studying online – away from physical interaction – universities should also step up measures to ensure students and staff are protected while on campus. Communicating frequently to students about the importance of maintaining social distancing and good hygiene practices, is an important way of minimizing risk of infection/transmission.