College and universities are places where the students get to study, interact and live in nearby proximity to each other. These locations are bustling cultural hubs with diversified people from around the globe. Currently, this unique ecosystem foundation has been severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak leading to uncertainty, in relation to the implications for higher education.
Since last few months’ education officials have closed the doors to campuses across the world and have switched classes to online learning. While, less enrollment with class closure at the starting of a new semester might be for a time being. Though, it’s hard to predict whether the coronavirus will bring a long-standing disruption to the worldwide higher education system and to what extent it will affect both domestic and international student.
A major concern for the education sector at greater level, particularly for the universities is; the international students’ population in percent, which make up a country economy, has fallen to a great point. For example, the US alone holds 33.7 % of Chinese students, while Indian students comprises of 18.4 %. To and from China, the travel restrictions slowed down the disease spread, but have left foreign students stranded. As per the Covid-19 Survey by the Institute of International Education (IIE), around 830 Chinese students have not been able to return back to the US to complete their degree. Though, it is just a minor percentage of the overall international student population, the million dollar question is: For how long this all will last?
Even if the travel restrictions aren’t removed in the next few months, then the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Germany will stand the brunt of economic downturn and the universities will bear huge income loss with higher dropout rates and lower enrollment from international students. Today, the universities around the world are busy giving accessibility to students and adjust their learning styles to maintain program enrollment.
An effective tool to maintain student retention and learning accessibility has been done through the courses delivered online. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, all universities around the world have adjusted their programs for virtual education. Though, it has not proven to be a successful channel in developing countries where students are deprived of basic technological measure. However, the developed countries have a productive response on this matter, but due to financial disturbances from student side, relying on this system for long is leading to higher dropout rate.
Moving all programs to online channel is challenging, while many of the institutes have integrated form of online education particularly into their coursework. However, the universities at small level might face challenges under the weight of the demand.
As it isn’t under controlled, the conditions are expected to get worse for universities as well as for individuals in not too distant future. Being financially affected, students are unwilling to pay for the course they will learn online as they will be no practical exposure and work placements, mainly for those who are in their last year of graduation. The visible effect of outbreak on universities is;
- As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, universities are facing multiple hits to their income including the possible loss of international students.
- Due to job scarcity, student applications on domestic level are steady in the short term. However, it is expected that campus life will not return to normal so soon. Therefore, universities are under even more pressure to offer value for money.
- As universities have shifted to online learning, a permanent move may entail a drastic change of business model, providing a broader customer base but lower fees.
- The online learning shift has exposed the education sector to many external competitions, where the prominent institutions are expected to hold the market share. Moreover, the fixed costs will persist
- Countries that send their many of the students abroad, for example; that of India, China, Kazakhstan, and Vietnam, may have opportunities to build more domestic institutions only if the public and private funding allows.
The top universities are also facing challenges. For example; The University of Michigan expects a loss of about $1 billion at the end of 2020, all pandemic-induced, while Harvard University projects a $750 million shortfall of revenue for next year.
The demographic shift has put downward pressure on college enrollments. The fields like computer science and medicine still see robust demand. The decreasing number of student intensifies resistance to labor-saving new technologies. Perhaps, the greater obstacle is the cost of producing taped lectures that doesn’t merely satisfy students as it does in one-on-one classes.
Do you think that COVID-19 shock eventually help to bring about better education for students at minimum cost? It depends whether the universities push technology aside as the pandemic declines or as a substitute look for the best method to harness it.