THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HIGHER EDUCATION
MARGUERITE J. DENNIS
BULLETIN # 8 MAY 11-15, 2020
“What do I know?”
It is with a great deal of humility that I write this week’s bulletin. I realize that
neither the writer nor the reader of this bulletin have ever been through anything
like what we are currently experiencing.
The virus will determine when it is spent, the scientist will determine when a safe
vaccine is available, the university president and vice-chancellor will decide when
and how to open their campus, the chief financial officer will decide when traveling
can resume, faculty will decide how they teach, and college and university
students will decide when and where they will enroll.
In a webinar held in Qatar, Her Excellency Sheikha Hund bint Hamad Al Thani,
vice-chair and CEO of the Qatar Foundation, said “Knowledge is sought. It doesn’t
come to you. You go to it.”
Twenty years ago I had an opportunity to speak with Sheikha about her vision for
higher education in Qatar. We discussed many aspects of higher education. But
the impact of a pandemic on higher education was not on the day’s agenda.
But what do I know?
JUST THE FACTS
The California State University System announced this week that the 500,000
students enrolled on 23 campuses, will take fall classes online.
Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, recommended that
SAT and ACT admission requirements be suspended until 2024.
According to a report published this week in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 7
in 10 U.S. colleges and universities plan to re-open classes in the fall in person.
Dutch universities have decided to hold classes online until February 2021. One
Dutch university, Leiden University, is considering moving classes permanently
An Institute of International Education survey revealed that 88% of U.S. colleges
and universities expect declines in international student enrollment in the fall.
In 2018 Chinese students made up 34% of the 1.1 million international students
enrolled in the United States. Estimates of the financial contribution from these
students range from $11 to $15 billion.
According to a report in China Daily 87% of Chinese students and parents are
reconsidering their plans to study in the U.S. in the future.
In April, the British Council published the results of a survey of 11,000 Chinese
students who were applying to schools in the U. K. Almost 40% are considering
canceling their applications and seeking higher education opportunities either in
their own country or neighboring countries.
Ben Nelson, chair and CEO of Minerva, reported that 70% of international
students who returned home during the spring semester, do not plan to return in
the fall to finish their studies.
According to an IDP Connect study, most international students prefer in-person
instruction over online teaching. Four in ten students would wait for 3-6 months to
begin in-person classes and more than half are willing to wait up to 12 months
before changing their education plans and exploring other options.
Estimates of tuition declines for U.S. colleges and universities in the fall semester
range from 10% to 90%, depending on the location and type of school. For
example, there are 1800 private colleges and universities in the United States and
according to a report in The Boston Globe, 345 are at high risk either to cease
operating or merging with another school.
WHAT ARE THE FACTS REVEALING?
Worldwide, most colleges and universities in western countries, with the
exception of Swedish universities, who reported a 12% increase in international
applications, will enroll fewer international students in the fall.
Chinese students, in particular, will enroll in fewer numbers in the U.S., U.K.,
Canada, and Australia. Either they will stay home or enroll in nearby colleges and
universities for the fall semester.
International student mobility has shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
GEOPOLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DISRUPTIONS
Tensions between China and the United States, Australia, Canada, and France will
influence the flow of Chinese students to colleges and universities in those
Falling oil prices will impact the economies of Saudi Arabia and Russia, and impact
student mobility from both those countries.
Germany’s proclamation, questioning the future of the European Union, could
impact future research, enrollment and study abroad programs among European
CONNECT THE DOTS
Charles C. Mann’s article in this month’s issue of The Atlantic, Pandemics Leave Us
Forever Altered, is must-read for anyone who wants a robust understanding of
the long-term impact of past pandemics.
“Hey Jude, take a sad song and make it better.”
Many of us are singing sad songs these days. COVID-19 is taking lives daily. Many
lives have been upended and livelihoods lost.
the Dutch historian, Rutger Bregman reminds us that the New Deal was
conceived in the midst of the Great Depression. In the 1940s, the Beveridge Report, the prime text of the British welfare system, was published while bombs
fell on London.
The economist, Milton Friedman wrote “Only a crisis, actual or perceived,
produces real change.”
COVID-19 has produced a real crisis for higher education. We will be judged by
what we do during this crisis, not only after the crisis passes.
I do not think this is the time to rethink higher education. I think it is the time to