THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HIGHER EDUCATION
MARGUERITE J. DENNIS
BULLETIN # 7 MAY 4 – 8, 2020
Zeitgeist – a defining spirit or mood of a particular period of time as shown by
the ideas and beliefs of the time.
The following are some of my ideas and beliefs in this time of the pandemic.
JUST THE FACTS
Standard & Poor’s downgraded the outlook for U.S. higher education to negative
due to student disruptions caused by COVID-19.
According to information published in the PIE News, the majority of Indian
students interested in enrolling for the fall 2020 term will defer enrollment and
26% of the students polled expressed a willingness to enroll in online courses.
According to an article in The Irish Times one estimate of decreased international
student enrollment in Ireland could be as high as 80%.
In 2017, the Gies College of Business and the Grainger College of Engineering at
the University of Illinois took out a three-year contract with Lloyd’s of London to
insure against a large drop in revenue from Chinese students resulting from such
things as a trade war, a global pandemic and visa restrictions.
Last week the National Association for College Admissions Counseling requested
American colleges and universities to reassess their admission criteria.
More than 70 U.S. schools no longer require the ACT or SAT for admission.
According to NACAC (same organization as listed above), more than 600 U.S.
colleges and universities have not filled their classes for the fall term. Last year
the number was 419 schools and prior to that year the number was 300.
In a survey of almost 6,900 prospective and current students conducted by IDP
Connect, IDP’s education market intelligence division, 38% of the students polled
are prepared to defer their studies until campus-based teaching begins and 31%
intend to begin their studies online until campus lockdowns end. Only 10%
indicated a willingness to complete their entire program remotely.
Public colleges in the United States increased tuition by more than 37% from 2009
U.S. student debt in 2020 increased to more than $1.6 trillion.
Two-thirds of students surveyed by The Chronicle of Higher Education want a
discount on their tuition and fees for remote learning courses.
In that same survey students were asked to rank colleges and universities
according to safety and handling of COVID-19. New Zealand came in first and
Canada came in second. The United States came in last.
According to Andrew Connors of Lloyds Banking Group, many U.K. universities are
modeling student reductions of between 80% to 100% for the fall term.
According to an Eduvantis survey of American business schools during the last
week of March, 93% of the responding business school deans said they believed
that the pandemic will accelerate the closure of several business schools.
CONNECT THE DOTS
If you want to know if your potential students are likely to enroll, follow the
economics and consumer behavior in each of your recruitment markets.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the GDP for the United States
decreased at an annual rate of 48% in the first quarter of 2020.
As of May 8th , 20.5 million Americans filed for unemployment in April. The current
unemployment rate is 14.7%. 8.4% of college graduates are unemployed and 21%
of high school graduates are out of work.
China’s goal of enrolling more than 500,000 students on its campuses this year
relied heavily on enrollment of students from Belt and Road countries. But
tensions with African students studying in China, coupled with a plunge in oil,
copper, and other minerals’ prices, has curtailed China’s ambitions in
infrastructure and education projects in Belt and Road countries.
China’s economic output fell 6.8% in the first quarter of this year. Chinese
companies posted their weakest corporate earnings in a decade in the first
quarter after the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to Soochow Securities, profits for more than 3,000 companies on
China’s mainland exchanges dropped 42% from a year earlier.
Australia’s central bank expects the country’s economy to contract 6% this year
and unemployment to peak at 10%.
Japan’s household spending in March fell 6% from a year ago, the biggest drop in
What does this have to do with higher education?
Consumer spending in all of these countries will decline. And that includes
spending for a college or university education.
Students, not recruiters, will determine college and university enrollment in the
future. According to Ben Nelson, CEO of Minerva, 70% of international students
who returned home during the pandemic are not planning to return to finish their
In 2011, Eric S. Yuan, founded Zoom and by 2017 the company’s valuation
reached a billion dollars. Zoom is now the fastest-growing videoconferencing
service in the world. The number of daily users jumped from ten million last
December to two hundred million in late March.
The estimated number of daily downloads, which averaged fifty-six thousand in
January, was 2.13 million on March 23 rd alone!
More than 170 years ago, the people of the Choctaw Nation sent $170 to Irish
farmers during the potato famine. Now, Irish families are returning the favor. As
of May 5 th , Irish families have raised $1.8 million dollars for Native Americans
suffering from COVID-19.
It seems that neither time nor a pandemic can blunt the generosity of spirit.
The handshake, a gesture that has been around since the mid-ninth century, and
evolved to show that you weren’t holding a weapon, is one of the many facets of
life that has been sidelined by the virus. It may never return.
Social distancing is not something new.
In an article from The Paris Review, the novelist Gorin McCrea writes about the
reveries of solitude experienced by Jacques Rosseau, who voluntarily stepped
outside of society and willingly distanced himself.
There is something positive about having more time, fewer meetings, and less
travel. We all have more time. How we use that time is an individual choice.
The third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson put it best.
“I love the ineffable of being owner of my own time.”