Commentary
Universities need to start looking clearly at the potential long-term issues that will arise in the post-pandemic period – from budgeting in the expected context of heavily strained public budgets to staving off potential threats to their autonomy – to be well placed for the future.
The essential role of local universities in building sustained health systems in the poorer regions of the world is vital for addressing how pandemics affect their communities and for stamping them out globally. Without investment in higher education institutions, these problems will recur.
The COVID-19 crisis requires universities and the associations which represent them to be more disruptive in their thinking about higher education internationalisation and to involve our student, community and institutional clientele in setting and implementing priorities for change.
Many health systems have been pushed beyond capacity by the current pandemic and many refugees have relevant healthcare qualifications that could be put to use. We should reach out to them and the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees provides us with the means to do so.
Will the coronavirus pandemic lead in the long term to more inclusive approaches to internationalisation typified by an increased focus on internationalisation of the curriculum, or will we simply slip back into our old ways focused on mobility for a minority of students?
Education systems around the world have reacted to the COVID-19 crisis by closing down physical campuses and moving programmes online. Yet 706 million students do not have access to the internet at home – including three million in the United States. How will this deepen inequalities?
An Erasmus Student Network survey shows Europe could see a drastic reduction in student mobility in the coming academic year due to the COVID-19 crisis. The European Commission needs to come up with a medium- and long-term plan to revitalise mobility and exchange.
The current crisis is likely to accelerate moves to online learning in higher education, but don’t expect a revolution any time soon. It is more likely to lead to an improvement in the quality and sophistication of courses and programmes by integrating an online dimension.
Instead of seeking medical treatment abroad, African leaders need to reduce dependency on foreign health systems by building and sustaining high-end university hospitals in their own countries to advance public health – as a matter of national security.
In the face of dwindling government funding and the need for income from international student patronage, appropriate marketing strategies are crucial for increasing the revenue base of universities in Africa.
The lessons of history show us that the best response to international challenges is international collaboration. But what are the mechanisms? Now is the time to establish an international assembly for higher education and global science to promote and sustain international collaboration.
It is both an ethical duty and a good business strategy for host countries to include international graduates on temporary visas in their welfare support programme during the COVID-19 crisis.
While many higher education institutions are still being hit by the COVID-19 crisis and rushing to move teaching online, we mustn’t forget that online provision remains less attractive to students than the full on-campus experience, with face-to-face classes and peer relationships.
Higher education is likely to suffer hugely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has a vital role to play in economic recovery, so its long-term health and revised goals in the post-pandemic future need to emerge as a key public policy debate.
With the help of universities and research institutions, China has adopted a coordinated approach to online learning in schools and higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic – with more than 270 million students learning online – and is preparing similar plans for emerging out of lockdown.
Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey has been preparing for years for online learning and has had experience in implementing it following an earthquake in 2017. That experience has been useful in shaping its coronavirus response. Keeping a flexible mindset at these moments is key.
Growth in Chinese student flows to the major English-language study destinations has slowed considerably since 2016 for a number of reasons. What will international student recruitment look like as universities adjust to a ‘post-China’ world? Diversification will be the key to sustainability.
China has said it will stop sending mainland students to study in Taiwan indefinitely due to political tension – having previously stopped sending them for the rest of the year due to COVID-19. What are the implications for the future of cross-Taiwan Strait mobility in higher education?
The novel coronavirus pandemic and the response to it promises to be less of a turning point than the catalyst for a speeding up of a trend towards declining power in the West – and this will affect international higher education enrolment, especially in the United States.
When COVID-19 hit Australia it was in the midst of its annual student intake. It saw challenges the rest of the world hasn’t faced yet. That experience – and the lessons learned – may provide food for thought for universities in other countries in the months ahead.
Africa is still being viewed through a colonial prism with an emphasis on the continent’s vulnerability rather than its capacity to contribute to concerted global efforts to defeat the coronavirus.
Africa’s leading universities are stepping up to the plate, assisting governments through research to contain the pandemic, and finding other channels through which to deliver on their mandates.
With pressure increasing on universities to show how they deliver public benefits,
European and national policy-makers need to do more to promote incentives for universities to engage with their communities in mutually beneficial joint activities. A new framework shows a way forward.
Many international students and staff have been the target of hostile responses during the coronavirus pandemic, making their study destinations seem unwelcoming, but institutions that provide support and care at a worrying time are setting a model of good practice which will be remembered.
Financially stable, technically sound institutions are better able to integrate digital technologies seamlessly with teaching and learning than others during the current coronavirus emergency. This could increase the higher education wealth and IT gap, as the poorest institutions are left grappling with makeshift arrangements.
Student mobility was an outdated approach to international education even before the current pandemic. In future, universities must ensure that internationalisation is no longer dominated by mobility, without which it becomes more accessible, more environmentally sustainable and less likely to cause brain drain.
The COVID-19 crisis will serve as a wake-up call to reassess the vulnerabilities of the higher education sector to disruption and the challenges of living in a global and interdependent world and will underline the importance of contingency planning and risk management.
The Turkish Council of Higher Education has been monitoring international higher education responses to COVID-19 and preparing for months for the nationwide transition to online learning necessary during the pandemic, including ensuring that teaching staff have the skills needed for the new digital context.
To create a better post-COVID-19 world requires democratic civic universities dedicated to producing knowledge and educating ethical, empathetic students for just and sustainable democratic societies. Although positive steps have been taken in this direction over recent decades, they have not gone far enough.
During lockdown and in the rush towards all things remote, universities should not forget traditional methods of international student recruitment and should reinforce these online, focusing on converting applications and interest into new students, which will also help to protect future revenue.
Leading in times of crisis requires a strong people-first approach, one that involves students and staff, especially those most disadvantaged, a desire to connect with others, reorganisation to face the crisis head on and, above all, a vision that goes beyond the crisis.
Despite massive investment in national ICT infrastructure in Uganda, online learning has not been embraced by universities and schools during the lockdown, which suggests that barriers to online learning are more than simply infrastructural.
The impact of and response to COVID-19 in Vietnam has lessons for international student recruiters. While it won’t be ‘business as usual’ for quite some time, now is the time to lay the groundwork for what they want to achieve in higher education after COVID-19.
Teachers’ creativity with online teaching, especially with real-time video, can be a vital factor for stimulating students’ autonomous learning, turning the epidemic ‘crisis’ into an ‘opportunity’ for reforming teaching and learning concepts, although it will not replace in-person interactions in the classroom.
South Korean universities and policy-makers have a choice in terms of how to view the COVID-19 outbreak: solely as a threat or also an opportunity to learn longer-term lessons about managing internationalisation and student mobility and improving online delivery and educational technologies.
To fulfil the aims of the European Green Deal and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we need academics from many disciplines who work collaboratively together in new, cross-disciplinary ways. Empowering and inspiring the Greta Thunberg generation of students may be our greatest legacy.
The coronavirus pandemic raises a large number of ethical issues that universities are at the centre of, from the future of globalisation to academic integrity. What values should guide universities as they address the extraordinary disruption to higher education and society at large?
What will the long-term impact of COVID-19 be on international higher education in India? With most international students coming from nearby countries and likely to continue to do so, and growing concerns about climate change, it could become a regional hub for higher education.
Early surveys of the impact of COVID-19 on institutions in the United States and Europe show how concerns are changing as universities are thinking more about the longer-term effects of the virus on higher education, particularly student recruitment for the next academic year.
From online learning inequities to economic disaster, COVID-19 presents severe challenges to the African higher education system and could seriously impact future government support for the sector, but it could also bring about much-needed changes with regard to distance learning.
It is vital for each sector, including higher education, to start reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 and assessing its possible consequences, otherwise recovery of the sector may be too slow, too late.
With growing pressures on finances which the long-term impact of COVID-19 will make worse, we need to rethink the use of textbooks and make learning more sustainable. Using open textbooks could contribute to fostering a more equitable and learned society in the Rainbow Nation.
Supported by University of Geneva academics, InZone has developed a community of higher education learners among the 190,000 refugees in the camp at Kakuma, Kenya, who are now trying to prepare their community for the dual threat of the pandemic and food shortages.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not signalling an end to international education but merely accelerating certain changes that have been in motion for years. Although international higher education has been profoundly changed by the crisis, our ‘new normal’ is still on the horizon.
COVID-19 is causing big challenges for university recruiters, with examinations being postponed or alternative methods of assessment being brought in. Potential solutions could worsen equity issues, but the pressure to focus more on domestic students could force a rethink on widening access.
It is impossible to predict the full extent of the short-, medium- or long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education, but the implications are becoming increasingly serious and mostly negative, and are likely to amplify gaps and inequalities between learners, institutions and countries.
What makes a university great? Higher education institutions have a responsibility to step up in times of global crisis like this to promote confidence, trust and unity and bring people together to continue to learn, to provide essential research and to serve society.
In the wake of China’s recent announcement on changes to the hiring process, studies confirm that PhD returnees have been more likely to secure a job in a top university if they demonstrate how their experience abroad enabled them to produce international publications.
Teaching students that ‘no question is stupid’ helps to initiate discussion and counters colonial mindsets that close down different experiences and undermine different types of knowledge, particularly indigenous knowledge. This practice constitutes a liberating space and healing process and should be embraced, normalised and celebrated.
In a world where remote learning is urgently coming of age due to pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic to move learning online, what type of e-learning works best and how can artificial intelligence aid the e-learning process, and what are its limitations?
Developing vaccines against disease is crucial; developing intellectual ‘vaccines’ against the closing of minds is no less important. Europe needs ideas to move freely after the COVID-19 pandemic and the European Higher Education Area needs a vision for Europe-wide higher education reforms that exemplifies its values.
The Cartagena Group of educators, scholars and policy-makers focused on Latin America is calling on post-secondary institutions to play a critical role in protecting students and staff, providing medical support and facilities, and contributing to research to tackle the pandemic and its effects.
The sudden (and necessary) move to online teaching is gaining huge traction as a fait accompli, without consideration of both the losses and gains that migrating to online facilitation and other modalities will incur for the sustainability of the academic project in all countries.
COVID-19 has effectively exposed the limitations of unilateralism. Against this backdrop, there is an impending danger that higher education may once again be sidelined as a luxury that African countries can least afford when it should continue to garner support on a priority basis to help overcome human-made problems and natural disasters.
COVID-19 presents the most significant challenge to international student mobility on a global scale since the Second World War, with recruiters for universities in the United Kingdom affected more than those in other significant international study destinations such as the United States, Germany and Australia.
The huge 2020 shock administered to higher education worldwide by the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred major educational reform in the area of online education, but a major bottleneck exists in the form of assessment. Universities need to innovate. Clever innovation is needed.
The rising middle class in China is hungry for quality education and studying in the United States is no longer reserved for the elite. A new book looks at the culture clash Chinese students face in America and explores how universities can better support them.
India continues to improve in the areas where it traditionally does well, such as the engineering and science disciplines, but it needs to broaden its capability by increasing the number of researchers and spending more on research, if it is to make further progress.
Although COVID-19 is likely to be a temporary crisis, it should serve as a wake-up call for higher education systems to flex their access and transfer pathways and ensure the provision of flexible educational delivery modes that serve diverse populations of learners.
In the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak, we need to consider what the worldwide economic and higher education landscape will look like after the threat from the pandemic has dissipated, including changes to the supply chain, recruitment practices and online learning.
Universities around the world are coming together to promote social responsibility and the scale and impact of what they are doing are increasing with the launch of a new online course. However, hard information about what students learn through their social responsibility experience – and how – is lacking.
Protracted student protests in South Africa over the past few years gave universities an opportunity to explore online education as an alternative to contact teaching and learning, and have put them in a better position to deal with current shutdowns necessitated by the need to contain COVID-19. Here, an academic from the University of Cape Town shares her experience and that of her colleagues in the process of “going online”.
A vice-chancellor of a private university in Ethiopia shares his experiences and lessons learned after his institution and its management urgently rallied to respond to an immediate nationwide shutdown of all educational institutions prompted by efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Predictions that nothing much will change as a result of the coronavirus strike me as a reflection of the inherent biases and binaries of international higher education. Instead we should be directing our efforts towards engaging with globalisation and its discontents more proactively.
Sustainability is moving up the strategic agenda in higher education, but universities need to come together more across all levels and disciplines to push forward on their key role in promoting it, and other stakeholders need to recognise the important contribution they can make.
Conference attendance is essential for aspiring academics, but as the cancellations mount due to the novel coronavirus, graduate students are particularly hard hit. Unable to afford flexible air tickets and refundable rooms, they are the ones most out of pocket and facing lasting career setbacks.
China’s recent landmark notice on academic publishing, aiming to reduce its reliance on the Science Citation Index for awarding promotions, job offers and allocation of research funding, will control costs without impacting on innovation for economic and social development, stressing quality over quantity.
While cities are locked down and borders are closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, science is becoming more open. This openness has the potential to change the world, but it also requires scientists to be responsible.
Universities should take their responsibilities to society and the ‘public good’ extremely seriously and be assessed accordingly, but shouldn’t rankings be assessed against the same objectives, which would require greater transparency and accountability rather than hiding their data behind paywalls?
There may be technical problems with moving to a digital first approach to higher education, but what needs to come first is the will to do things differently and a full realisation of the benefits. The current crisis demands we make that shift.
The coronavirus crisis is undoubtedly a serious problem for societies, individuals and for higher education. But the crisis will eventually pass for international higher education and the status quo will largely prevail. However, there are bigger lessons to be learnt about planning for such events.
The new Nordic Institute of Latin American Studies aims to create a mutual understanding, a space for debating social developments and creating a counterweight to ever more polarising narratives about what Latin America is and means to us, and what the Nordic countries are and can mean to everyone.
If it wasn’t for the coronavirus epidemic, the shock switch to online education in Chinese universities would not have occurred. This unique opportunity to trial it has been positively received but has also revealed what needs to be done to make it more effective.
A new draft ordinance setting out rules for permanent residence for foreigners in China has brought a lot of criticism from locals, but the very act of asking for public comments on it could spark better communication between the government and Chinese people.
Despite the uncertainty created by Brexit, both the United Kingdom and the European Union know that to tackle the great challenges of the 21st century, from climate change to the rise of artificial intelligence, academics will need to continue to collaborate across disciplines and across borders.
To mainstream higher education for sustainable development requires academic staff to reflect on the adage ‘think global, teach local’ and implement teaching and learning activities in which the global must become locally significant for all actors involved in order to be meaningful and insightful.
Universities need to think ahead and pre-empt events such as the coronavirus crisis and become both more resilient and flexible to changing circumstances. In this way, they will not only be better prepared, but there could also be wider advantages they can tap into.
If universities’ missions and hiring and promotion practices are misaligned, with the latter based on rankings or research output and failing to acknowledge the broader social role of higher education, universities will have a difficult time meeting their potential and usefulness for society.
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa has recently proposed several changes to the humanities and social sciences in African universities, but they need first to consider what the purpose of these disciplines is in an African context – and link those changes to what is happening in schools.
Tsinghua University’s new global online education programme marks an important phase in the transformation of elite university education in response to growing disruption, such as the coronavirus. Now is the time for bold education experiments, informed by major useful research, that will trigger enduring change.
An administrative change last year for international students wanting to study in the United States shows how the Trump administration is blinkered in its approach to international higher education and doesn’t understand the potential pitfalls created by not taking into account how other countries operate.
Decolonisation must start by acknowledging how the neoliberal university operates to obscure its own complicity in creating and maintaining its own colonial knowledge hierarchies. Achieving decolonisation requires deep and radical changes to what we teach and the character of higher education institutions.
Conferences are important places of learning and networking for career development, but the existence of an institutional culture shaped by gender- and caste-based social relations is causing the exclusion of faculty members from disadvantaged social groups from participation, which further marginalises them.
Let us be honest … the deep transformation around knowledge, pedagogy and institutional culture is eluding us, except for pockets of productive work in some of our universities in South Africa. A new, emancipatory imagination for higher education looks like a bridge too far.
It is time to focus on creating an enlightened cadre of African intellectuals, scholars and professionals who fully recognise their history but are confident in navigating the international landscape in the national and continental as well as global interest.
China has announced plans for a new academic evaluation system which will see it developing its own domestic system and turning its back on the race for citations. The great challenge, however, is how to do this and maintain international standing.
The new coronavirus requires a new approach to health. The One Health Initiative brings together a range of disciplines, including veterinary science, to forge a more versatile response to environmental and epidemiological crises, but it will require a lot of lobbying to take hold.
Universities are facing risks from a number of fronts in an increasingly uncertain world. Risk registers are one way of managing these, but many are very simplistic and they can only manage known risks. The problem is those risks for which there is little precedent.
Despite cautionary tales about foreign involvement in Indonesia’s higher education system, experienced providers in Australia such as Monash University, which has just announced that it will establish the first foreign campus, are prepared to invest the time, effort and resources to build connections.
China’s response to the coronavirus has widespread consequences for science, research publication and education. Journal publications are being delayed, scientific conferences shelved, campuses all over the country are closed and even the gaokao school-leaving exam, crucial to university entrance, is under threat.
A growing trend towards portfolio ways of working and towards increasing numbers of students enrolling in occupationally linked programmes that include work-integrated learning means universities need to take account of dual professionals’ views to inform professional development that is mutually beneficial.
Academic freedom and institutional autonomy as well as academic and institutional responsibility are necessary if universities are to realise universal values such as democracy and open inquiry and to contribute to developing and sustaining fair, decent and just democratic societies for all.
Despite much talk about the increased focus on higher education in the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, they barely reference it. For Africa, it is better to focus on local and regional policies that recognise the crucial role of higher education in development to leverage funding.
Africa is the fastest growing continent and, with a middle class that has tripled in size over 14 years, it is set to become the fastest growing source for international students. Already the competition, whether for courses abroad or online learning, is hotting up.