When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many industries were significantly affected. Among these was the education sector. School closures mandated by governments severely impacted learners from across the globe. Based on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) data, the pandemic has affected 990,324,537 learners worldwide.
For child learners, skipping the school year may not be an issue. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those taking up higher education. The scenario is entirely different. Skipping a semester can mean waiting for another year until missed subjects are offered again or putting one’s career advancement on hold.
School closures had a significant impact on international students in particular, because they had to sort out their status on campus and even in the host country. Students who were stuck home at the time of the closures had to deal with remote learning while in a different time zone.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) cannot afford to hold off on classes any longer. While institutions can be slow to evolve and transition to remote learning, the pandemic has been critical in precipitating changes.
What has changed among HEIs during the pandemic? Let’s comb through the gains and losses in the time of remote learning.
Gains: Spearheading Remote Learning
Remote learning had existed long before the pandemic wreaked havoc. Its implementation was a slow and challenging process because not many are open to embracing these changes.
In order to survive and thrive in the pandemic, HEIs were forced to resort to online learning. For many, the pandemic proved to be a silver lining for immediate and continued success. The pandemic allowed institutions to shed the belief that online education is much more inferior than the traditional face-to-face setup.
Education technology is already increasing in adoption long before the pandemic. In fact, the global edtech investments reached US$18.66 billion in 2019. The overall online education market is expected to achieve as much as US$3590 billion by 2025.
With the surge of different edtech tools and resources since the start of the pandemic, the industry will only keep on growing. And it is up to the HEIs to increase funding to stay relevant.
Through education technology, the higher education sector saw and embraced the pros of leveraging online accessibility and opportunity to bring learning to all students no matter where they are.
Losses: Compromising International Student Enrollment
However, not all HEIs were able to jump into the sudden change, as many colleges and universities found it challenging because of the lack of experience and resources to develop innovative solutions to deliver learning to their students.
Despite several HEIs offering online courses before the pandemic, only a few students considered it an effective alternative to face-to-face education. In the United States, only 12.4 percent of tertiary students in public institutions were enrolled in purely distance education courses in 2018.
Since travel will remain increasingly restricted, international students are faced with tons of issues, mainly dealing with online learning. In addition to adjusting their schedules to accommodate different time zones, they also have to lose the benefit of mobility to increase their international exposure. And this can primarily affect their access to networking and access to the foreign job market—the main reason most students, particularly those from the EU, choose to study abroad.
Additionally, fewer international student enrollments can mean that HEIs have to initiate changes in funding models, particularly for school systems wherein international students shoulder higher tuition fees than local ones.
Canada, Australia, the UK, and the United States are just some countries with many international students and they rely heavily on these students to pay differentiated fees. Revenues will be significantly affected, impacting the student’s learning when reduced funding means fewer opportunities for instructors and professors to engage in research and further studies for professional development.
The Middle Ground: Education Technology x Online Recruitment
The pandemic highlighted one possible solution to help HEIs ramp up their student enrollment. They need to reinvent the student’s learning environment, embracing digitalization to complement and expand teaching and learning without replacing student-teacher and student-student relationships.
With the enrollment of international students severely compromised amid the pandemic, HEIs have a lot to gain through partnerships using reliable education technology tools and resources.
MSM Unify is a student recruitment platform that connects HEIs to education agents and students globally. Sign up with us to ramp up student recruitment in a challenging post-pandemic world.