As is the case for many parts of our environment COVID-19 also has major impacts on global higher education institutions since they had to shut down a few weeks ago. Spanish Universities were closed on March 14th and the national state of emergency was extended to April 11th for now.
The first priority for all schools is to ensure the health and safety of their students and their staff while most institutions have taken different actions to continue teaching on a virtual basis. But what comes next?
During the remainder of 2020 and most likely 2021, restrictions in global travel will have an impact on young people studying abroad, especially in popular study destinations like the US, UK, Australia or Canada.
Consequently, the actions, which institutions are taking today, will determine if the respective schools will survive this indefinite travel ban, as there will be a shortage of students who sign up for universities far from their home countries.
On the other hand, the way we deal with this global challenge now has revealed new approaches with regard to teaching, business, and society.
What can higher education institutions do today to address the challenges brought by COVID-19?
At LEAP, we have seen different approaches in education:
- Educating students on health guidelines and social distancing;
- Combination of online with on-campus learning. Start online, continue on-campus;
- Discounts on study programs; Introduction of program refund policies;
- Loosening admission policies (e.g. IB/IGCSE/National High School exams were postponed this year);
- Conditional admission;
- Extending deadlines.
EAIE conducted a survey recently and listed some of the actions that institutions around the world have implemented in the last couple of months:
- Communicate with your students, on-campus and abroad. Be understanding and supporting, provide guidance;
- Establish policies regarding canceled abroad programs and provide guidance regarding travel restrictions;
- Provide guidance regarding health insurance coverage;
- Offer support to access financial funds where possible;
- Communicate with your partners and strengthen the relationship. this provides great opportunities to plan common webinars, virtual classrooms, SM campaigns, etc.
- Keep your followers and community updated on guidelines provided by your institutions, the WHO and the government.
Bottom line is, whilst facing this global crisis, we have to realize that the world will keep spinning and the September (fall semester) is approaching soon.
Although these are very difficult and challenging times, higher education institutions have to plan ahead and secure their existence, workplaces, and incoming students.
On the other hand, students have to keep planning their future – online courses are a good starting option until the situation goes back to normal. Now is a good time to evaluate study options, institutions and start the application process.
A question that comes mind as an IoT enthusiast – which role will technology play in education in 2020 and how will it transform the education industry if the travel ban stays in place longer than expected?