THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HIGHER EDUCATION
MARGUERITE J. DENNIS
BULLETIN # 15 JULY 8-12, 2020
“There is only one way out of this. It is, of course, by rethinking our education.”
C.P. Snow, former professor, Cambridge University and author of The Two
Cultures and the Scientific Revolution
THE REIMAGINED UNIVERSITY
In the reimagined university the registrar is re-named graduation counselor and
the career counselor is renamed lifelong learning counselor.
These two administrators, rarely having a seat at the strategic planning table,
should have a seat at the vision planning table.
The graduation counselor has the ability, to outline for accepted applicants and
their families, the courses that should be taken in sequence that could
“guarantee,” if followed, progression and graduation in two, three or four years.
Applicants would have this information before making an enrollment decision.
Potential outcome: Increased yield rates, less student debt and better progression
and graduation rates.
Lifelong learning counselors have the ability to inform accepted and deposited
applicants about internship opportunities at the beginning of their academic
career, not as they approach the final year of enrollment as is often the case.
Students and their families would have this information before enrollment.
Potential outcome: Increased yield rates, better graduation and retention rates
and earlier collaboration between potential employers and alumni.
Both of these suggestions build upon the previous recommendations for a
reimagined university, including offering classes yearlong, both in person and
Another quote from C.P. Snow is relevant to the times:
“The imperative for adaptability, rigor, and quick but astute decision making is
obvious. Because academic wristwatches mark time in increments of quarters or
semesters, clock speed may need to be calibrated. Faculty committees tend to
deliberate while shifts in policy, culture, and technology flash by at warp speed.”
Adaptation is part of life.
Or as the management consultant, Peter Drucker wrote, “The best way to predict
the future is to invent it.”
JUST THE FACTS
“The mean-spirited policy is ignorant and ominous.” So wrote Brian Rosenberg,
president emeritus of Macalester College, referring to the July 6 th ruling by the
Trump administration requiring all international students, those in the United
States and those international students planning to enroll in the fall semester, to
take courses only in person and not online.
Colleges and universities were given nine days to respond with their teaching
plans for the fall semester to meet the requirement.
This amounts to a new travel ban for F-1 students and could affect one million
international students and cost the U.S. $41 billion in revenue.
A list of 40 colleges and universities in the United States with largest number of
international students, included the following:*
NYU – 17,552 international students – 30.8% of budget
Columbia University – 14,615 international students – 44.6% of budget
USC – 16,075 international students – 32.3% of budget
Stanford University – 5,650 international students – 27% of budget
Harvard University – 6,117 international students – 15% of budget
Boston University – 9,742 international students – 23.5% of budget
Carnegie-Melon University – 8,604 international students – 56.4% of budget
Northeastern University – 14,905 international students – 53.6% of budget
Cornell University – 6,775 international students – 23.5% of budget
If you added up the number of international students attending California
schools listed in this report the number is 68,174.
Some of the most prestigious and generously endowed colleges and universities
in the United States, with a substantial portion of their budgets met by
international students, will be in trouble if these students are not allowed to
enroll in the fall semester. Of course, everything is relative. But I was surprised at
the high percentage of budgets met by international students at NYU, USC,
Stanford, Northeastern, Columbia, BU, Cornell, and Carnegie Melon.
*Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education
On July 9 th , Harvard, MIT and Northeastern University sued the Department of
Homeland Security over this policy.
“We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students – and
international students at institutions across the country- can continue their
studies without the threat of deportation.”
Lawrence S. Bacow, President, Harvard University
More bad news for international students and scholars. According to the Alliance
for International Exchange, the suspension of certain visa categories, including H-
1B, H-2B and some L and J non-immigrant visa categories, could cost the United
States’ economy more than $223 million dollars and more than 7,000 jobs.
My colleague and co-author, Gretchen Dobson, sent me an article detailing how
geopolitical tensions between Australia and China have spilled over into Chinese
students’ decisions about studying in Australia. Less than 50% of Chinese students
plan to return to Australia to study.
Some families and colleges and universities are investigating purchasing tuition
insurance to protect against future enrollment uncertainties. GradGuard, is a
tuition insurance company with 300 private and public institutions enrolled in
their tuition insurance program.
Some UK universities are considering chartering planes to bring international
students from India and China to their campuses to begin classes in the fall
semester. Jamie Arrowsmith, assistant director of policy at Universities UK
International, said it was supporting institutions by exploring the logistics and
costs of chartering flights.
The UK has announced the creation of an “Office for Talent,” as part of a plan to
attract high-caliber research talent in order to make the UK a scientific
Enrollment managers at several small private and public regional colleges in the
U.S. report they are very near to meeting their new student enrollment goals for
the fall semester. Returning students’ enrollment, at the colleges polled, is also
How did this happen?
“We threw all the models out the window.” Todd Rinehart, vice
president/chancellor for enrollment at the University of Denver.
I am gratified by the comments I have received over the past 15 weeks from many
of you reading these bulletins. “Bulletin distribution” has increased from a small
group of colleagues to vice chancellors, presidents, international deans and
consultants in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and the United States.
I am grateful to all who read and respond to my axiomatic suggestions of the
moment. And I often try to reimagine what the next 15 weeks will bring.