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News and business analysis for Professionals in International Education
Updated: 1 year 2 weeks ago

UK schools must assure int’l parents

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 04:19

UK boarding schools must show a united front when they are dealing with coronavirus and be more vocal about options they will offer prospective international students or risk harming enrolment numbers in 2020, a stakeholder has warned.

If schools do not improve their strategies and assure parents of international students, those heavily reliant on income from international student fees could risk closing altogether, one agent has suggested.

“Schools are braced for a dose of tough reality”

Samuel Chan, managing director of Britannia StudyLink said schools concerned over low international numbers starting in autumn “will close down” if assurances to parents are not resolved.

“Schools in the UK need to act because the general feeling towards the UK, in general, is not very good over here in Asia,” he told The PIE News.

Particularly in Hong Kong – where Chan is based – local media reporting on the coronavirus situation in the UK has been met with concern by parents, while reports on an under-pressure NHS with insufficient protective equipment have been met with disdain.

“The one message that’s spreading in Hong Kong is pupils in the UK once they’re ill, they are asked to stay home, sleep, take rest, have a slight fever, that’s fine. And Hong Kong parents 100% hate it.”

Parents in Hong Kong need assurances that if they were to send children to the UK, that they would be safe. One option could be that they have access to private health care, Chan suggested.

Peter Woodroffe, deputy chief executive officer of the Independent Schools Association, has said that 15-20% of UK independent schools could close as a result of the pandemic.

The association’s chief executive Neil Roskilly has said schools are “desperate”.

“We’ve been operating for 147 years, and we’ve never seen anything like this,” he told The Financial Times, while chief executive of the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association, David Woodgate, said schools are planning to shut unless they can find new owners or funding.

“It’s not coronavirus alone but it was almost a final straw on top of other financial threats. Schools are braced for a dose of tough reality,” he said.

“We know that British education for younger years is the most highly sought after and of very high quality compared to the rest of the world.

“The demand for Australia or America would never match, but it’s which country fights the virus quicker and better that will define the demand,” Chan concluded.

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India: 70% want to continue study abroad

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 02:30

Some 70% of prospective international students from India want to continue with their applications to study overseas, a survey by Mumbai-based edtech startup Yocket has found.

While a fifth of respondents said it was “too early to decide”, only 9% suggested they wanted to defer their admission. A mere 1% answered that they wanted to remain in the country and begin their studies in India.

“If the students aren’t able to complete their process they would end up wasting a year. We don’t want that to happen”

“We have seen panic among students looking to study abroad,” Sumeet Jain, Yocket co-founder said in a statement. “Many of the students were in the middle of their applications for the fall 2020 season.”

Yocket has also announced it will begin free advising services to prospective international students. According to the company, many applicants are facing major problems accessing information from universities overs as well as counselling services from faculty.

“If the students aren’t able to complete their process they would end up wasting a year. We don’t want that to happen,” Jain added. “Even if the term starts online or a bit late, they would need to be prepared. We want to be sure that students don’t waste this time in panic.”

Additionally, Yocket – which says it has registered more than 350,000 students at 100+ international universities in the US, Canada, UK & Hong Kong – is providing free webinar services to international universities so they can interact with candidates directly.

“The user can take the services from the website as well as a mobile application where most of the information is available at a DIY level and they can get personalised guidance from experienced counsellors,” Jain noted. 

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Survey: 1000s of students could not access food or healthcare due to crisis

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 06:55

Thousands of international students in Europe were not able to access basic needs like food, sanitary products and even healthcare because of the coronavirus outbreak, while others experienced a spike in instances of racial discrimination, a comprehensive survey by the Erasmus Student Network has revealed. 

The ‘Student Exchanges in Times of Crisis’ report, which was released this month, builds on a survey in which 22,000 international students and trainees in Europe provided information about their experiences of COVID-19 and mobility. 

“Universities and the governments were not prepared to tackle a crisis like this”

Some 37.5% of the respondents reported having significant problems relating to travel, healthcare, basic needs, accommodation and visas. 

“The survey showed that the universities and the governments were not prepared to tackle a crisis like this, which is perfectly understandable, because it is an unprecedented situation. It is challenging for everybody,” Kostis Giannidis, president of the ESN, told The PIE News

“But something that we can take out is that the universities didn’t have the right measures to tackle the situation. I think this is something that we can work on in the future so that the universities have more risk measures in place.”

The survey was open from March 19 to March 30 and addressed the topic of student exchanges in Europe affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 

As part of the research, students were asked whether they had experienced problems in five different areas in an effort to assess the impact of the epidemic. 

The major problems faced by students. Source: ESN

A total of 6,132 students said they had experienced a loss of transportation to return home, while 1,430 said they had no access to basic needs, such as food and sanitary products. 

Accommodation also caused issues, with 1260 saying that their accommodation had been cancelled or closed.  

Some 795 students reported having no access to medical support and 287 had problems with visa or residence permits. 

Other findings of the report include a spike in racial discrimination with 6% of all the respondents reporting that they experienced discrimination based on their nationalities. 

Students who experienced feelings of racism and discrimination. Source: ESN

Out of those respondents who said they had experienced discrimination to either to a great extent or to a very great extent, 24% were Italian students and 19% were Asian students. This marked a total of 2,431 Italian students and 657 Asian students.

Giannidis stressed that this problem was partially circumstantial, in that discrimination was based on if a student had come from a country that was suffering serious problems from the coronavirus. 

“We have to take into consideration when the survey was done it was the end of March. Back then Italy was the worst case when it came to coronavirus. But now it has spread all over Europe. I think that it isn’t about Italian students anymore,” he said.

The psychological impact of coronavirus has been severe, not just on those students who are facing major problems, but also for those who have had to disrupt their studies. 

Overall, 41.2% of the respondents reported that they had experienced anxiety and stress to a great extent or to a very great extent, during the last two weeks. 

A difference in responses was noted depending on the status of the exchanges.

Of those who had not been able to start their exchanges, 31.4% reported that they had experienced anxiety and stress to a great extent or to a very great extent. For those who had stayed in the exchange destination, that number was 30.6%.

By contrast, for those who had not decided whether to stay or return, the number was 47.5% and for those who had returned to their home countries, it was 47.4%.

“My family obligated me to come home, even though I did not want to go”

The report included testimony from a Dutch student, to emphasise the personal impact on those who have had their studies disrupted. 

“When you go home, you just feel like a loser because others are staying,” the student said.  

“My family obligated me to come home, even though I did not want to go. I felt like I was giving up and especially now in the Netherlands, I am like was this it, was this my study abroad… I wish I could do it all over again or at least given the chance.”

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IIE commits $1m to COVID-19 fund, aims to double it

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 06:30

The Institute of International Education has committed $1 million to aid international students in the US caught in the crossfire of the coronavirus pandemic, and is seeking to raise an additional $1m to double the number of students it can aid.

In what is described as its “most expansive Emergency Student Fund ever” the IIE has launched the IIE Emergency Student Fund: COVID-19 Response to support international students currently studying at IIENetwork Institutions in the US.

“The necessary but abrupt campus closures are devastating for many international students”

An IIE statement explained that to halt the spread of the coronavirus, universities around the US have shuttered residence halls and moved courses online.

“The necessary but abrupt campus closures are devastating for many international students,” it noted. “Some are unable to go home to be with their families—border closures and cancelled flights make it impossible.

“Others made the difficult decision to remain in the US anticipating they might not be able to return when their university reopens.”

As a result, the statement continued, international students are stranded in the US, unable to meet basic living expenses.

“Their employment options are limited by law, and their eligibility for financial aid is even more limited. Their families may be unable to provide funds the students have been counting on. Some students may have fallen ill and need support while they recover,” the statement explained.

To help meet the immediate needs of international students, IIE said it has allocated $1 million to cover approximately 300 emergency grants, and aims “to raise another $1 million and double the number of students we can aid”.

International students in the US can turn to IIE for help by asking their on-campus advisors to nominate them for IIE’s emergency grant assistance.

The ESF: COVID-19 Response will provide grants of $2,500 to selected students who demonstrate a high financial need to cover their living expenses through summer 2020.

“100% of gifts to this fund will be used to assist international students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” added IIE.

For more details about the IIE Emergency Student Fund: COVID-19 Response, visit the program website.

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In the move to online, education must come before technology

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 03:57

As Covid-19 has swept across our world turning the expectations of individuals, countries, businesses and institutions on their heads, 2020 has felt to many of us like a new reality.

Almost every aspect of our lives and communities depends as never before on the ability to connect online. Remote teaching and learning, virtual classrooms, online support and assessment are creating a new normal. The past feels ever more distant. We wonder if we will ever return.

As the Director of the EdTech Lab at Imperial College in London, I’ve been working at the interface between education and technology for 20 years and my company Insendi has supported academic and professional colleagues at leading business schools around the world in their efforts to build high-quality technology-enhanced online programmes.

The move to online education was a strategic choice for a group of students who wanted to learn that way

In the past, those developments happened carefully, closely aligned to academic strategy and with all the rigour you would expect of the institutions involved. The move to online education was a strategic choice for a group of students who wanted to learn that way.

But Covid-19 means online education delivery at scale and across the board, by necessity rather than choice. Is there anything to learn from those who underwent change in another time?

The future of online international education

International education has responded magnificently and at speed to a previously unimaginable scenario. Nobody anticipated that innovation would be fast-forwarded in this way but necessity has been the mother of invention.

Congratulations are in order. Students have continued to learn, to be supported and assessed. International education did not collapse.

In the rush to develop online capacity, the focus has understandably been on implementing technology-based solutions fast. However, not all prior knowledge and experience is obsolete. Teacher support, pedagogy and care for students deserve just as much attention.

Yes – IT infrastructure and support systems need to be reliable and robust, but we need to pay as much, if not more,  attention to helping teachers and students adopt these technologies to best effect. We must remember that education is a profoundly human experience.

One-size-fits-all solutions implemented across an institution will lead to poor experiences for the majority of students. Technology needs to be flexible enough to support the rich tapestry of different teaching activities required across different subject areas and student groups, wherever they are in the world.

Online learning at the top table of university strategy

For this to work best, online learning will need to be where it always really belonged – at the heart of teaching and learning strategy.  The world may not revert to any kind of normal as quickly as we hope. It already looks likely that the present disruption will continue into the following academic year, a significant proportion of course delivery will need to be done online.

Within disruption lies opportunity, however challenging to see at the time

Even once domestic students begin to return, we know international students may find it difficult to travel to their study destinations straight away. Online alternatives will ensure their education is not thrown completely off course by global events beyond their control, and everyone will benefit as a result.

Within disruption lies opportunity, however challenging to see at the time.  The innovation, infrastructure and knowledge gained from this crisis will change the way we teach and how we imagine new models of international education.

In recent years, at almost all universities, investment in the physical campus has dwarfed that put into the virtual campus, often subsidised by international students. The present crisis should lead to reconsideration of this balance given the proportion of learning hours that will be delivered in the virtual campus.

Academic development will need a greater focus on helping teachers rethink how to inform and challenge students in this new environment, how to facilitate online educational communities, how to acknowledge success and surface difficulty.

Teaching strategy, quality assurance,  accreditation, teaching evaluations and other teaching related matters will also need to adapt

Education first

Over time, a teacher who becomes adept at adopting a range of technologies – including the emerging learning experience platforms such as Insendi – will be able to move beyond webinars and lecture recordings to create dynamic, multi-faceted online learning experiences comprising sequences of experiential activities, labs, rehearsal exercises, presentations and ‘real world’ assignments.

Teachers need to be in the driving seat

Our experience has always been that success in online learning means putting teaching first and technology second. Technology is critical , of course, but its role should be to enable rather than determine outcomes.

Teachers need to be in the driving seat and it will be they who are best placed to understand how students will move from A to B and to design learning experiences that will enable them to thrive.

Dr David LeFevre is Director of the EdTech Lab at Imperial College London and the founder of Insendi, a learning platform company recently acquired by Study Group.

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IELTS launches temporary at-home option

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 02:11

Testing provider IELTS has announced an online option – IELTS Indicator – for test-takers currently unable to sit exams due to coronavirus restrictions.

Developed by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English, IELTS Indicator will be an interim test for students who want to continue with their applications at study destinations that require evidence English language proficiency.

“IELTS Indicator is an online test that can be taken from the comfort and safety of your home”

It remains up to institutions “determine the suitability of IELTS Indicator for their application purposes”, the organisation noted, adding that test-takers are advised to check whether their chosen institution will accept the test before booking.

The test will launch in countries where IELTS testing has been suspended, with bookings opening from April 22.

“IELTS Indicator is an online test that can be taken from the comfort and safety of your home,” the organisation said.

“The test is available for a limited time while IELTS testing is currently suspended due to COVID-19,” it explained, adding educational providers can use IELTS Indicator to help gauge the English language ability of future students while IELTS testing is suspended.

A number of other testing providers have already announced at-home solutions in response to COVID-19.

IELTS Indicator will assess four skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking – in a timed test that matches the structure of an in-person test.

It remains reliable, fair and accurate, the provider maintained, and uses standard IELTS marking procedures, and official IELTS Examiners.

“The Speaking test is delivered via video call with a fully qualified and trained examiner, maintaining IELTS focus on assessing conversational English proficiency,” IELTS added.

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Aus: food banks for struggling students

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 01:15

Australian training provider TAFE Queensland has set up food banks at its campuses in a bid to help international students who may be struggling financially due to the global pandemic.

The initiative was launched after a staff member bought struggling international students groceries of their own accord. In the first three days, TAFE Queensland put together care packages for more than 200 international students at its Brisbane campus.

“TAFE Queensland trains more than 2,400 international students and nearly all of them are facing financial hardship”

“State-wide, TAFE Queensland trains more than 2,400 international students and nearly all of them are facing financial hardship, but providing them with food is one worry we can take off their minds,” TAFE Queensland International executive director, Janelle Chapman said.

“For the last three weeks, TAFE Queensland staff have been sourcing non-perishable goods, and I am overwhelmed and so grateful for the response we have received.”

Similar operations have been rolled out at the SkillsTech, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg and Cairns campuses.

According to the provider, students enrolled from across the world have found themselves far from their families and are without financial assistance.

The Australian Red Cross has also been named as the charity which will support temporary visa holders – including international students – with emergency relief, funded by the government.

The charity will assist with food and medicine costs when government funds are passed on to the charity. However, the Red Cross urges international students to contact their institutions to see what support they can provide.

The coronavirus pandemic has also caused job losses causing further financial strains.

“Many in our community are struggling to make ends meet right now, and it’s humbling that people are generously sharing what they can to support those in need,” Chapman added.

“We’ve received everything from tinned food to fresh fruit and personal care items, and our hospitality team has also been cooking meals for our international students to take away.”

OzHarvest and StudySunshineCoast helped deliver goodie bags over Easter

Local community groups in Brisbane such as A Touch of Compassion Inc., OzHarvest and Community Friends have also been contributing to the initiative, donating meals and groceries.

IEAA has requested the government to establish a national hardship fund to assist international students.

Meanwhile, some providers have set up funds of their own. The University of South Australia has created a $10m Student Hardship Fund (COVID-19) for all of its onshore students. Melbourne City Council has also pledged financial support for international students, according to the national press.

Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman called the TAFE Queensland initiative a “true example of the Queensland spirit”.

To donate, get in touch with TAFE Queensland.

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Vouchers over refunds could save study travel sector from collapse

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 08:29

The study travel sector is at risk of imploding unless language students are obliged to accept vouchers instead of being given refunds for cancellations of their overseas study experience, industry professionals have told The PIE News.

Both language schools and education agencies are having cash flow problems – the result of large numbers of students not being able to start courses, or being forced to return home early.

“This is the only way not to collapse and destroy the industry”

And many of these students have submitted cancellation and refund claims – putting pressure on businesses that are always seasonal and are now facing a critical lack of bookings. 

“Unfortunately, the disruption caused by the outbreak has had a catastrophic impact on this industry, and we know that both schools and agencies are facing the same challenges, through no fault of either of us,” a consortium of well-known ELT operators told agencies, in an open letter

Despite the letter’s conciliatory tone, the ELT operators stressed that agencies must make timely payments to schools, and urged them to persuade students to accept postponements or make use of online courses. 

However, agencies claim they are unable to make payments because money has already been spent, for example on airline fares. Consumer laws around the world dictate that students must be paid a refund as a result of cancellations, and so agents cannot force students to accept postponements. 

Acknowledging that both agents and schools are in “exactly the same situation”, FELCA president Paolo Barilari told The PIE that the only solution is for governments to relax consumer protection laws so that students have to accept a voucher instead of a refund. 

“FELCA is trying to lobby our own governments, to say, in this special situation, in such an emergency, forget to protect at the end of the consumer, and accept a system of vouchers… This is the only way not to collapse and destroy the industry.”

According to Barilari at FELCA – a global grouping of national agency associations – these vouchers could be flexible, and take the form of a digital currency like bitcoin, that could be used as regular money within the industry. 

“So schools and agents and students should think, we are not cancelling the bookings, we are just suspending them for now. For a certain amount of months. And if your course is paid, instead of doing it now, you do it next year, in September or October.” 

ELT operators support the principle of postponement for courses and are equally worried by the prospect of refunds for students.

“We’re fully aligned with what Paolo’s been talking about,” said Hannah Lindsay, group sales and marketing director and deputy CEO of St Giles International, one of the schools that signed the open letter. 

“[The sector] is an ecosystem. In order for the schools to survive, we want the agents to survive. And agents can’t survive unless they’ve got a reasonable choice of schools. 

“So if everyone’s in a position where they’re having to give a lot of refunds, it’s very, very difficult for either party to survive because we just don’t have the income generated from new bookings at the moment.”

Lindsay explained that postponement is the best option for all sides – something she thinks that agents and schools both agree on. 

But despite such consensus, postponement of courses is not certain: FELCA’s task of lobbying different governments around the world to change their consumer protection laws is a difficult one. 

ELT operators are insisting that online alternatives should still be seen as a solution to the problem posed by students demanding refunds.

“The schools have invested a lot of time and effort in developing a suitable online alternative at very short notice and cannot provide them for free,” the open letter to agents states.

“If everyone’s in a position where they’re having to give a lot of refunds, it’s very, very difficult”

“We are aware that some students haven’t been keen to accept this alternative or postponements and are determined to cancel courses, but it takes time for students to adjust to this unprecedented situation.”

This sentiment was echoed by Lindsay. “We’ve put loads of time into making a good online product. You know, something that’s of value and will help the students improve their English,” she explained. 

The post Vouchers over refunds could save study travel sector from collapse appeared first on The PIE News.

Don’t cancel summer internships – redesign them

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 05:00

Just as we quickly adapted to working from home, scheduling Zoom meetings instead of dinners with friends, and realising that trips to the grocery store are now the highlight of our social lives, we can also shift our approach to internships and placements.

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to thousands of student placement cancellations across the globe. We are all being challenged to rethink the way we interact, the way we live, and the way we work.

The cancelling of these placements is no doubt a result of rapid changes in the labour market. Businesses in all sectors are being forced to reconsider their plans and adapt to what most are calling the “new normal, ” which undoubtedly includes tighter budgets and greater instability.

While a reduction in student hires is an understandable response, we believe there is an opportunity for post-secondary schools and companies to re-think placements instead of cancelling them.

Why is this important now?

For many students, the cancellation of these placements is about far more than disappointment. There are also long-term implications for their career ambitions and the entire labour market.

For many students, the cancellation of these placements is about far more than disappointment

If a student is underemployed when they graduate, they are likely to remain underemployed for 5 and even 10 years following graduation. Students graduating this year will be entering the greatest economic recession of our collective lifetime, and without access to the experience needed to land meaningful employment, we will all be feeling the consequences of this for years to come.

Working with employers on any of the following adaptations can be an excellent way to give them the security they need to bring on a student. While these options might not offer a full replacement for an in-person placement, students will still get valuable experience that will help them this summer, and for years to come.

• Consider doing placements virtually

Like the rest of life in the COVID-19 world, placements and internships can be virtual. Most students are digital natives and can easily adapt to remote work practices. Given their advanced knowledge of collaboration tools and technologies, they might even be able to help other employees transition to remote work more seamlessly.

• Turn a placement into a project with clear deliverables

Much of the feedback from employers has been around how they don’t have time to train students. Placements are too ambiguous and this gives employers the sense that they will have to do the heavy lifting to get the student ready to deliver value to the business. One alternative is to consider converting placements to projects with clear deliverables.

Technology has become the glue holding us together

Instead of hiring a full-time intern for your marketing team, why not do a short term student project that results in the development of a brand new communications plan?

• Leverage technology to help free up management and supervisory time

Technology has become the glue holding us together. There are many incredible tools out there for managing communication with virtual interns. Consider leveraging tools like Riipen which lets you connect to post-secondary institutions for project placements, manage the experience virtually, and give the students feedback – all on a single platform.

• Instead of hiring a single student intern, leverage a team

When hiring a new intern, you always face the risk that the person you bring onto your team might not be a great fit for the project. Given the increased need for flexibility, why not consider working with a team of people instead of just one?

Consider the possibility of working with a group of 4 students on a market insights project that would tell you how your business might need to change to thrive in the post-COVID economy. The diverse backgrounds of the team members will grant you a richer understanding of your challenges, and ensure you gain maximum value from your investment in emerging talent.

Adjusting to this “new normal” requires us all to rethink the way students and companies engage with each other. We encourage you to reconsider what work-integrated learning can look like and to let this time be a catalyst for embracing innovation.

Your openness to adapt will ensure students get the experiences they need to succeed this summer and beyond – and help your business as much as you help the students you hired.


Shawn Lestage is a member of Canada-based Riipen’s executive team, leading Riipen’s entry and expansion into the UK and EU. Prior to joining Riipen, Shawn was MD and co-founder of Future Project, a HE student recruitment consultancy that worked with 50+ partners based in the UK, US, and Australia.

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IALC launches IALC Online for virtual courses

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 04:14

IALC has announced the launch of IALC Online, a new specialised online course area for international study travel agencies to help meet the needs of language learners across the world.

From their own home, students can learn from up to 10 languages including Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, or IALC’s newest accredited language, Arabic.

The courses are delivered to small friendly groups through virtual classrooms where students are able to interact with teachers and the other people in their group.

“The feedback has been incredibly positive”

“IALC Schools have reacted to this unprecedented situation by adapting and innovating their vast range of course offers, guaranteeing continuous support to all students and promoting a wide range of courses also to prospective students,” said Giorgia Biccelli, IALC president.

“IALC is at the forefront of innovation and quality in the language industry. The positive reaction which has been initiated now will be expanded and continued also in the future.”

Robin Adams, IALC vice-president for marketing added: “IALC schools have moved quickly to provide high-quality virtual lessons to their students, thereby ensuring that students who either decided to continue their study abroad experiences or returned home, are able to access our accredited teachers and curriculum.

“The feedback has been incredibly positive and we will be exploring how to maintain this dynamic approach to language learning for adults and juniors in the future.”

Visit IALC Online to find out more.

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Australia: Int’l Student Support Network launched

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 02:51

The Australian Homestay Network has launched an Australia wide program called the International Student Support Network to provide short-term, heavily discounted homestay to eligible international students impacted by the global crisis.

The ISSN has been established to connect vulnerable students with locals who will provide short-term homestay accommodation, meals and a safe home environment, with hosts receiving a small reimbursement to help cover the costs of the student’s living requirements.

“Our future reputation is dependent on how we manage this crisis and care for international students”

The ISSN is facilitated by the AHN, which successfully piloted a similar initiative for asylum seekers in 2012.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the international education economy and on international students in Australia, many of whom are facing extreme financial hardship and are unable to travel home,” said AHN founder, David Bycroft.

“We’re looking for community-minded people to show these students that Australia does care about them and we are here to support them.”

Bycroft said the ISSN was created in consultation with industry bodies, education providers and student groups to provide relief for at-risk students.

He said that international students are dealing with uncertainty in almost every aspect of their lives: “study, financial hardship, homesickness, loneliness and anxiety about living day-to-day with the uncertainty of their future here in Australia”.

“ISSN homestay is a comfortable, safe and economical solution to help international students get through these tough times so they can experience the best of Australia once the crisis has passed,” he added.

“If we can offer them some peace of mind and structure by connecting them with a compassionate local family – we want to make that happen.”

Bycroft said hosting with the ISSN also reinforces the valuable contribution international students make to our community and the Australian economy.

“International education is Australia’s third-largest export. Our future reputation is dependent on how we manage this crisis and care for international students currently in our country.”

Anyone interested in hosting with the ISSN can register online, while students can apply for the ISSN program upon referral from their education provider (eligibility criteria apply).

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Samuel Vetrak, BONARD

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 01:04
Samuel Vetrak heads up global consultancy BONARD, specialising in data insights, business solutions and M&A advice in international education. He answered our questions about future developments across the industry and from insight gained via his China office.

 

The PIE: Where does international education and student housing sit during this pandemic?

Samuel Vetrak: For our sector, mobility is essential and when it was suddenly restricted, there was a big impact. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic and related economic difficulties have hit the industry at the most critical time, prior to summer and just before the start of the new school year.

It was a sad and hard hit that nobody could prepare for. Adaptation is taking the best out of all of us, but it needs to be done properly and quickly as otherwise, this will hurt us all for a long time. On the other hand, the student sector has more solid long-term prospects than other sectors – student mobility has increased after every downturn in the last decades.

The PIE: Given your global perspective, what do you think we can expect going forward? 

SV: There are two options. Some expect this to take max three months. They believe the market will go back up as rapidly as it went down; a sort of V-shaped crisis. This seems to be unlikely in the globalised world, where it will take time to restore the right health and economic conditions on an international level, as well as enough confidence among consumers for them to spend on services related to mobility.

What seems more realistic is that it will take five-to-six months, with a more moderate and incremental increase, a sort of U-shaped scenario, from the start of the upcoming school year.

The PIE: How does the situation look for English language training?

SV: ELT is the hardest hit and has moved online. How many summer centres will be up and running this year is questionable, too. The schools will most likely have no bookings or ability to deliver, at least it seems that way for July. Most of those we talk to are now working hard to expand their capacity in August instead. Some ELT providers are selling ahead for courses to be run later in 2020 or summer 2021 to achieve some revenues now.

“How many summer centres will be up and running this year is questionable, too”

The PIE: Are schools in a position to start thinking about long-term planning?

SV: As most ELT schools are dealing with the immediate impact on next term’s enrolments, they’re busy converting to online delivery and dealing with cancellations.

But providers are thinking long-term too. For most ELT schools, a reasonable time-limited hibernation at leaner operating levels, together with sourcing credit or government subsidies, and sales where possible, seems to be the best way forward in the short-term.

The PIE: What are your thoughts regarding international high schools?

SV: The high school sector is slightly less affected as some international students were allowed to stay in their study destination. There are less cancellations even though many students are returning.

What we are hearing directly from them or their associations is that some new bookings are coming in for September intakes. Hence, there is less impact and a bit more of a positive outlook in the high school sector.

The PIE: Is the situation the same in higher education?

SV: In higher education, as another academic sector, students have been allowed to stay in most destinations. They are returning even less than the high school students, and new bookings for September intakes are incoming.

The general expectation for the autumn term of 2020 is that fewer students will arrive and take fewer lessons, if necessary, postponing some of their subjects, credits and exams for later semesters in 2021.

“We will definitely see more digitalisation thanks to current patterns and 5G coming at the same time”

The PIE: And what about student accommodation?

SV: Student housing is among the best performers – not only across all student sectors-  but also across all real estate asset classes, such as retail, office or hotels, all of which went down rapidly. Student housing premises are still accommodating international students. There is a certain dip, but business is still being done.

As operators collected summer 2020 semester fees earlier, some of them are dealing with cancellations, and a few are allowing full cancellations, or deferring the payments by regarding them as deposits for the next semester.

The PIE: To what extent is student housing impacted, then?

SV: We are currently seeing a certain downturn, but it depends. Some providers have seen only a small dip, around 2%, but some are looking at around the 40% range. It varies by property, university and city/destination in general.

When it comes to bookings for autumn 2020, they are still coming in. It’s not like for the ELT or other short-term programmes. Student housing usually caters for long-term students, and they still plan to come in reasonable numbers for the upcoming semester.

The PIE: How are schools dealing with their financial situation?

SV: Reactions differ. Many are trying to access government support or credit, be it by taking out new loans or selling shares. In terms of human resources, education providers are either offering salary cuts or considering job cuts (or furlough where possible).

In terms of offer, they are trying to keep up their income through online offers, deferred payments or flexible conditions, such as flexible start dates, no or online exams, no deposits, new discounts, vouchers or no cancellation fees. We may see some operations considering exit, in the form of either sale or closure, as a direct consequence of the difficult market situation.

The PIE: Institutions are pivoting towards online delivery – what are you hearing about market reaction?

SV: As mentioned, most educators have moved to online delivery for those students who are already at their destination. However, online delivery doesn’t seem to be a sustainable long-term solution. Agencies stress that international students are paying the fees not only to study abroad, but also to immerse themselves and interact with the local people and culture. It’s about an overall experience that online delivery does not necessarily offer.

“Online delivery doesn’t seem to be a sustainable long-term solution”

As a result, ELT and short-term online programs seek to differentiate from other online provisions available to students, by offering different completion certificates or by augmenting the online course with features simulating wider social interaction, extending the experience beyond classes only.

The online programs of international academic providers are considered slightly differently – they differ from other online offers generally available so it makes more sense for students to commence, continue or complete the course.

The PIE: Reading your research, it looks like consolidation has been gathering pace over the past few years. What is the impact of the pandemic on investments in the sector?

SV: Just before the outbreak, our analysts measured M&A activity for the last five years across all sectors. When it comes to ELT, we found that out of 3,259 English language centres accepting internationally mobile students in the world in 2015, 268 ELT centres have been subjects of M&A, while another 392 centres were closed, most of them – 218 – in the US.

On the other hand, the market has experienced 139 new openings within expansions. As such, about 20% of the industry has consolidated over the last five years.

The PIE: Can we expect that this trend will continue?

SV: Most of the M&As are on hold right now because it’s difficult to visit, to do valuations or sign the deals. It’s not like there won’t be an appetite, as there is still a large amount of capital available, but most investments are being currently postponed.

The PIE: Do you think we will see little-to-no investment in 2020?

SV: Not necessarily. As M&A advisors, we also work with investors seeking opportunities. They see it as a good time to buy for less. We have seen a rise of vertical integration of schools are buying agencies. There are agencies with 40 offices, normally valued at US$20 to $30 million which are now available for less than half that. That is an interesting opportunity for investors and schools with investment capital ready.

The PIE: What will the business landscape look like in the future, do you think?

SV: Naturally, once both the pandemic and the economic difficulties are more under control, we will end up in a new reality – perhaps a bit less demand at the beginning, but increased demand coming later, and most likely with a changed structure, different student preferences and a need for innovation at schools and education providers.

Unfortunately, and certainly, there will be fewer schools and distributors (agencies), which will influence the after-Covid reality as well.

“Most of the M&As are on hold right now because it’s difficult to visit, to do valuations or sign the deals”

The academic sectors with long-term programmes and autumn intake dates in the northern hemisphere will bounce back sooner than language training with short-term programmes.

We will definitely see more digitalisation thanks to current patterns and 5G coming at the same time. That will bring more virtual campus tours to demonstrate schools and accommodation premises. Webinars and video meetings between schools, agents and parents will be the new normal.

Students will continue to study abroad, maybe even more than before the crisis. The question is not whether, but how, we are going to study, or how we are going to book our study.

The PIE: Do you see any commonalities when it comes to price adjustments?

SV: From what we know, there are no plans to make big changes – either to drop or to increase prices. Bookings patterns will change as the bookings will come later and the customer will defer the decision due to weak confidence. There might be fewer bookings at the beginning of a U-shaped recovery, which will bring the need for greater flexibility.

The PIE: You have an office in China. Is business switched back on?

SV: Our experience is that new inquiries for our services are mostly coming for China and Asia as many educators and schools are looking to benefit from the recovering market.

Thanks to our Chinese colleagues’ guanxi and networks, we are in regular touch with dozens of agencies. Most of them have 50:50 online/office availability. There is always at least one person in the office per day, so they can deal with any walk-in inquiries.

The PIE: What is their current focus?



SV: Chinese agencies are now heavily exposed on social media, using WeChat and other digital platforms for marketing. Inquiries are 40% to 60% of what they were pre-COVID-19. Due to limited mobility, agencies are doing a lot of online events either between them and parents, to which they invite schools as well, or there is online B2B trading between schools and agencies in China that we, as a business, also help to organise.

“Chinese agencies are now heavily exposed on social media, using WeChat and other digital platforms for marketing”

The PIE: Have changes been made to how Bonard is operating?
SV: Information is twice as important and relevant these days as it was before, even though our customers may not be in a position to afford it right now. Hence, we provide a lot at no charge, or offer payment terms to help partners get service now and pay in instalments, or when the market picks up again.

As for the service, we empowered our operation in Asia in order to better serve China, Pacific Asia and Australia. Also, we expanded our team in Latin America earlier this year. And while we had previously offered digital marketing advisory and implementation only on an occasional basis, we are now making it a more regular offer to educators to enable them to better reach students in source markets.

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Pivot to adapt to “significant” drops in int’l enrolments, HEIs told

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 06:14

Almost half of prospective international students whose study plans have been affected by coronavirus are intending to defer their studies as a result, while just short of one in 10 have indicated that they no longer want to study overseas, an analysis from global higher education experts QS has shown.

According to the ‘Impact of the coronavirus on global higher education’ report – surveying around 11,000 international students – 46% of prospective student respondents said the coronavirus had impacted their study plans, while a further 25% said they did not know.

“It’s imperative that institutions listen to students’ needs and concerns and leverage the latest technological tools”

The report noted that universities are responding to expected drops in international students, with some adapting English language testing provision, delaying start dates and changing application deadlines.

A majority of institutions suggested digital events (75%), digital marketing (73%) and online meetings (70%) are becoming more important.

Over a period of six weeks, numbers of students suggesting their plans had been impacted grew. In mid-February, 60% said they had not been affected, but towards the end of March, that figure had shrunk to a mere 14%.

Graph: QS

Almost a third (29%) said they did not know, as 57% suggested the pandemic had impacted their plans.

One positive takeaway is that the proportion of students suggesting the pandemic had caused them to cancel their study abroad plans had declined over the six weeks the survey was collected.

Between February 18 and March 5, 22% of respondents said they no longer wanted to study abroad. By March 26, that proportion has shrunk to 6%.

In an online webinar, content marketing manager at QS North America, Amity Bacon, indicated that higher education providers will need to pivot in order to engage with prospective students.

“Institutions have to roll up their sleeves in the next few years and work hard to achieve their voice, brand, and presence post COVID-19.

“Students will not find [institutions] in the same ways,” she said.

The survey noted that prospective students mentioned travel restrictions, university closures, difficulties with visa application and scholarship interviews, as well as health concerns and exam cancellations.

It showed that 17% of institutions said that they would admit students who hadn’t completed the required language tests due to COVID-19, while 27% said they were still considering this change.

However, while 58% of prospective international students expressed some interest in studying their degree online due to coronavirus restrictions, 42% stated that they had no interest in studying online.

“Students will not find [institutions] in the same ways”

As universities come to terms with “significantly reduced” revenue from international student tuition in the next academic year, “consistently adapting to this new normal will be crucial in the months to come” the report noted.

As 50% of institutions indicated the pandemic would have a “detrimental impact on the number of student applications” – 26% said they thought the numbers would stay the same – around a third (34%) said they were looking to diversify source countries for recruitment.

New territories mentioned included Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

“Universities can continuously strive to deliver high-quality teaching and consistent communication to students,” the report urged.

“To do so, it’s imperative that institutions listen to students’ needs and concerns and leverage the latest technological tools.”

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ILAC assists inlingua Vancouver/ INVO

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 03:58

The International Language Academy of Canada is helping to transition current and future students of ELT provider inlingua Vancouver and its sister school INVO College after the Canadian institution announced it will be permanently closing its doors on May 29 due to the coronavirus crisis.

Over the next few weeks, students in both ESL and college programs at inlingua Vancouver / INVO College will be transitioning to ILAC and ILAC International College if they choose to do so. 

“With a decreasing number of students, our continued operation was not sustainable in the long run”

A statement at the end of March posted by the director of inlingua Vancouver / INVO College, Juan Palacio, explained that the global restrictions in travel, the health restrictions for campus operations, the uncertainty of the crisis and the market conditions were all factors contributing to the decision to stop operations at the end of May.

“With a decreasing number of students, our continued operation was not sustainable in the long run,” Palacio wrote online.

To ensure that students have a good experience, inlingua Vancouver / INVO College said it has chosen ILAC KISS as the best option for virtual delivery for its students. 

“It has been a pleasure working with Juan Palacio to help him transition his students,” says Jonathan Kolber, CEO of ILAC. “I’ve known Juan for 20 years and I’ve never seen anyone roll-up their business with such dignity and integrity.”   

The COVID-19 outbreak has put an enormous strain on the international education industry in Canada, in particular private schools and service providers that are dependent on student mobility.

ILAC said it is working closely with colleagues and partners around the world to create a strategy for students already in Canada as well as others who would like to continue learning online in preparation for September. 

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Three schools launch Keep Learning French

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 01:58

Three partner schools have launched an online Keep Learning French program aimed at French language learners who want to continue their studies during the coronavirus outbreak.

LSF Montpellier, IFALPES Annecy and Institut Européen de Français Montpellier have created the Keep Learning French program, featuring distance learning and e-Learning opportunities.

“We can no longer be satisfied with selling only face-to-face”

“It is time to integrate distance learning courses into our pedagogical logic and our sales processes,” the schools said. “We can no longer be satisfied with selling only face-to-face.”

Together, the schools have pooled resources and skills they have been developing over the past four years.

“Keep Learning French is the union of the business continuity plan of our schools and the will to launch a new economic model more focused on digital so that together, schools and agencies, we can face the crises,” they noted.

“We believe that unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis will impact us for quite a long time,” the schools said.

“Learners won’t return in a heartbeat when the virus has been eradicated. Inertia will have a medium-term impact on the economy of language study trips.”

Schools and agents will lose a lot of turnover, and the health crisis will lead to an economic one, they added.

“It is fundamental to anticipate a difficult and long period… [and] to fill the gap that will be created,” they said.

The course is available for one-to-one learners and groups, and is coupled with an e-Learning platform.

Virtual classes and social activities offer students the opportunity to “get out of isolation”, as well as preparing students wanting to come to France for face-to-face lessons in the future.

“While there are no longer students in the classroom, there are students in the virtual classroom. Even at a distance, students benefit from the same pedagogical power that we have put in place in our schools, and which gives such good results,” the schools added.

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China: 39% of applicants unsure of study plans

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 09:07

A British Council survey of nearly 11,000 Chinese students considering higher education in the UK has revealed 39% are undecided about cancelling their study plans.

China is the largest source of international students in the UK, with 115,014 study visas issued to the Chinese students in 2019 – 45% of such international visas.

“We know that international students are incredibly resilient, but…they need support and reassurance”

The survey was run by the BC research and consultancy team in Beijing and featured 10,808 responses from students in China between 27 March and 3 April.

While the report acknowledged a bias towards postgraduate students who made up 85% of respondents (Chinese students in the UK are typically split 50/50 between undergrads and postgrads) it noted that there were no significant differences in how the two groups answered the questions.

Respondents were already considered ‘in the pipeline’, with 98% either having applied or already studying internationally and most of them in the UK.

Of the 8,481 respondents who have applied to study this year, 22% said they are likely or very likely to cancel their study plans and 39% are undecided. 27% said they are not at all likely to cancel, or unlikely to cancel.

However, of the 1,770 respondents who are already studying outside of China this year, 13% said they were unlikely to return and 28% remain undecided about coming back, a situation described as “possibly a cause for concern” for HE institutions.

While students who are further along the application process are less likely to cancel, this trend poses a challenge to institutions who may be looking to pick up late applications, noted the report.

Commenting on the survey, author and global head of Insights and Consultancy at the BC, Matt Durnin, said this group of students “is where the battle will be fought over the coming months in order to maintain enrolments over the coming academic year”.

“This rapidly evolving crisis has potentially severe implications for higher education, with growing uncertainty about when and how we can resume operations,” he added.

When students were asked about their concerns over applying to the UK, 79% said they were very concerned about health and well-being; 87% are very concerned about personal safety; 86% are concerned about finances; 70% concerned about applications difficulties.

In March, a survey by the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association found that approximately 86% of Chinese students currently studying abroad wish to return to China, with almost two-thirds of those surveyed saying they aren’t satisfied with the actions their host countries are taking to halt the spread of coronavirus.

“This will be a challenging year for international higher education, globally and in the UK,” added BC senior advisor on Education Research, Michael Peak.

“We know that international students are incredibly resilient, but like everyone at this time, they need support and reassurance that whenever they engage with UK education, they will be part of a high-quality learning experience.”

Further results from the survey can be found in the video below:

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Australian universities warn gov’t guarantee of AU$18bn is not enough

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 03:15

The Australian university sector has welcomed a federal government guarantee of AU$18 billion in funding to help see out the COVID-19 crisis, but has warned that the relief package would not address the billions of dollars in lost revenue from international students.

Along with the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, the government has said it will guarantee HELP [loan] funding streams at current levels, meaning universities will continue to receive cash “even if there is a fall in domestic student numbers”.

Its latest rescue package also includes funding for new short courses for the unemployed and $100 million in regulatory relief.

“Like the rest of the Australian community, the higher education sector has taken a financial hit because of the coronavirus,” Federal education minister Dan Tehan said.

“We estimate 21,000 jobs at Australian universities will go within the next six months”

He announced the funding guarantee at current levels and greater flexibility in the use of these funds than ever before.

In a bid to enable Australians who have been impacted to reskill, he said the cost to study short, online courses from universities and private providers would be “slashed”. Courses will start at the beginning of May and initially will run for six months, according to his press statement.

Commentators questioned how the new funding model for micro-credentials would work in practice; the plan is still being finalised.

“This plan will help Australians who have lost their job or are looking to retrain to use their time studying nursing, teaching, counselling, allied health or other areas considered national priorities,” Tehan said.

“These reforms will help universities pivot towards a closer alignment of domestic industry and student demands through innovative micro-credentials delivered flexibly online.”

The minister added that the relief for universities will “unashamedly” prioritise domestic students.

“We’re going to need our university sector, we’re going to need our broader tertiary sector to retrain and reskill Australians to help us emerge from the pandemic even stronger,” Tehan said.

However, stakeholders warn that the announcement is “nowhere near enough” to cover conservative revenue decline estimates of up to $4.6 billion, with thousands of jobs at Australian universities anticipated to be lost of the next six months.

Universities Australia said the commitment to guarantee Commonwealth Grant Scheme and HELP funding payments for 2020 was “an important first step in ensuring the viability of the nation’s universities”.

But even with the funding commitment, the will be a tough road ahead for many institutions, the organisation indicated.

“We estimate 21,000 jobs at Australian universities will go within the next six months. Without guaranteed CGS and HELP funding that figure would have been even higher,” UA chair Deborah Terry said.

Universities are already cutting costs via a reduction in operational spending and senior staff salaries. Some are also deferring “vital” capital works, she added.

“This will be nowhere near enough to cover what we conservatively estimate as a revenue decline of between $3 billion and $4.6 billion.”

UA will continue to support international and local students who have lost their part-time jobs, Terry added.

“Many of our students are struggling to pay rent and buy food. Universities are offering crisis support, but more  will be required.”

Others have argued that not enough measures had been introduced to protect international students in Australia.

The ‘relief’ package for higher education announced by education minister Dan Tehan will do nothing to address the anticipated multi-billion shortfall in university income this year, the National Tertiary Education Union said in a statement.

“The $18 billion that Tehan is trumpeting is already budgeted for,” wrote NTEU national president Alison Barnes.

“We’re happy to take their money in the good times… But we say ‘sorry, you’re on your own’ in the bad times”

“It’s the government funding for domestic students that universities were already expecting. None of it is new money.”

Barnes added that it will “not plug the gaping hole in university finances left by the drop in international student income”.

Earlier in April, a number of calls for further international student support in Australia were made, with IEAA calling for a national hardship fund, Melbourne city council talking about hardship support and a No Worker Left Behind campaign taking off.

“We’re disappointed that the government has effectively abandoned international students, who may face being stranded here with no money and no income,” Barnes added.

“We’re happy to take their money in the good times, to the point where it made up over 26% of university income in 2018. But we say ‘sorry, you’re on your own’ in the bad times? This is shameful behaviour.”

Australian National University higher education researcher, Andrew Norton, said the students should normally be expected to support themselves but not during the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic.

“When you do have a completely unanticipated crisis that means temporary migrants cannot support themselves, a country like Australia that takes the benefits of temporary migrants should also incur the costs,” he added.

Part of the government package involving “regulatory relief” means deferring payments that are usually required by education regulators.

New cost recovery arrangements for TEQSA, ASQA and for the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) will all be deferred by 12 months to 1 July 2021.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Senator, Michaelia Cash, said there would be significant regulatory and fee relief provided to the vocational education and training sector, as well as higher education.

“We’re listening to industry, which is why fees charged by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) will be refunded or waived,” Cash said.

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Online education and why squash is NOT easier than tennis

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 02:13

The only sport I have played to a high standard is squash, where I was on the varsity team at Phillips Academy Andover, a prep school in New England.

The United States is NOT a squash playing country and even in the “New Englander” magazine list of the “114 Top Pastimes of New England” squash was at #114 (the editor of the magazine was a former prep school student and squash player and he extended the list to #114 to get squash on there).

It was a small and chilly squash season each winter when every Wednesday and Saturday we bundled into a van with our coach and drove up and down the icy I-95 to other prep schools and played our heart out. If we won, he would stop at the McDonalds drive-in on the way back.

Tennis was a spring sport and the varsity tennis team would show up at our early winter squash tryouts.  The tennis players were taller, stronger, more popular and believed that “squash is easier than tennis because you can hit the ball as hard as you want and it always comes back”. This meant the tennis players were also stupider.

IF you can hit the ball as hard as you want and it always comes back at you it is easier to hit a squash ball BUT it is harder for everyone to win a point. Many schools going online today due to COVID are a bit like the varsity tennis team trying out for the squash team without realising it is a different sport.

Like squash and tennis have different paths to excellence so offline and online education require different approaches for pedagogical and commercial success. Once the threat of coronavirus has waned, we will be back on campus but even so schools have a chance to evolve and the ones that do will succeed more in the post-Covid 19 era than those that do not.  Two examples of adaptation to online that could benefit even in a hybrid/back to campus environment follow.

This would bring the online experience from “worse than in class” to “as good as YouTube”

At present schools (or school groups) with multiple sections per grade are running each class separately. This means an “introduction to magnetism” physics class is being taught in each section live by a teacher online to his/her section of 20-40 students.

Why not parse out the “introduction to magnetism” unit to one of the physics teachers, give that teacher more time to prepare (because they are not doing some other units) and even invest in some graphics and sourcing of existing online content to liven up the class?

This would bring the online experience from “worse than in class” to “as good as YouTube” (which kids can’t get enough of).  Groups of schools could also make an effort to team up, record and “vote up” their favourite class and then use that content across the schools and even in future years.

The shift to online and then back eventually to a hybrid model will also impact school economics and pricing.  Markets are rational over time and it is unlikely that parents will support the same “fully on campus” price for a partially on-campus/partially hybrid experience unless schools can show the hybrid experience is better (e.g., yes your class is online but it is with the Smithsonian Museum expert in the subject and it is in HD”).

Schools therefore need to literally think outside the box in terms of sourcing pedagogy in ways that on-campus delivery could not offer or finding new ways to unbundle and price. A new delivery model will also imply a remodelled cost base in terms of flexible staffing and spend on third-party content and services versus in-house delivery of pedagogy.

Technology should allow us to achieve more and better output with less input but as it stands most schools are not achieving this outcome.

Early days, but the schools that figure out the difference between squash and tennis are more likely to win at their chosen sport.

• Karan Khemka is an occasional columnist for The PIE: He was partner and head of the international education practice at Parthenon-EY for 16 years and now serves on boards at global education companies.

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Studyportals launches virus impact monitor

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 01:59

Interest in exploring study abroad options has declined in 2020 compared with 2019, but international postgraduate declines are “less pronounced” than those at undergraduate levels according to Studyportals’ new interactive COVID-19 dashboard.

The global study search platform said it hopes the dashboard will help to monitor the impact of the pandemic on student search behaviour and the international education industry as a whole.

“Nothing is certain anymore, so we need to trust the data to inform future decisions”

The dashboard collects data from Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Data Stream, and Studyportals’ data on global student interest and English taught programs at universities worldwide.

Early insights suggest that along with expected demand declines in traditional on-campus degree programs and surges in online degree and non-degree courses, domestic programs and European students searching for courses within Europe have risen.

Examples include a rise in Greek, German and Italian students searching for courses in the UK, while the Netherlands has seen an uptick in interest from Germany, Italy and Spain.

German students are also increasingly looking at French study options, it showed.

“We were looking how best to help the higher education community globally,” Thijs van Vugt, director of the Studyportals Analytics & Consulting Team, said.

“The big question on marketer’s or recruiter’s mind right now is how this pandemic is affecting student demand.

“Will it decrease, and if so for how long? Will students be looking more for online programs or maybe more for domestic programs?”

The interdisciplinary Studyportals team will provide real-time insights into the impact of COVID-19 on international student interest, he noted.

“Nothing is certain anymore, so we need to trust the data to inform future decisions.”

Data is broken down into key destination countries, source markets and seeks to evaluate differences between online and on-campus student interest-driven by COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Studyportals, it is essential to continually monitor trends. In previous research, data correlated well with future enrolments with a 1.5 year time lag, the platform showed.

“The situation is so unpredictable that student interest could either continue to decrease or shoot through the roof when the travel restriction are lifted,” Carmen Neghina, senior marketing analytics consultant at Studyportals added.

“There’s just too much we don’t yet know, but we are monitoring it closely.”

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Sinorbis offers free access for int’l ed providers

Mon, 04/13/2020 - 01:15

Software as a service company Sinorbis is giving free software access to international education providers who are struggling to stay connected to Chinese students during the COVID-19 crisis.

The announcement comes less than a month after an IIE survey found that more than 20% of universities and colleges have not made alternative plans for their Chinese international student recruitment and engagement, despite the fact that travel restrictions to and from China are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

“We’re now starting to see a new normal emerge where all student engagement and recruitment happens through digital channels”

China remains the largest source country for international students in the US, UK, Canada and Australia and a lack of engagement plan for this market could lead to major enrolment drops for future intake periods, noted Sinorbis.

“The international education sector has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19,” said Sinorbis CEO, Nicolas Chu.

“Across the globe, we’re now starting to see a new normal emerge where all student engagement and recruitment happens through digital channels.

“This is a tough shift to manage in any market. But with China, you have the additional challenge of having to navigate all this within the constraints of its Internet regulation.”

Chu said that giving universities, schools and colleges free access to the platform is the company’s way of offering a “small contribution to help the industry get through this difficult time”.

Sinorbis’ digital marketing platform was launched in July 2017 and has been designed to help organisations overcome the technical challenges of creating and managing a digital presence in China.

In response to the crisis, the company has enabled integration with Zoom’s webinar solution so that education providers can facilitate virtual face-to-face interactions with current and future students.

“The ability to run webinars has been one of the most frequently requested features by our education clients since the beginning of the spread starting in Wuhan in late January,” added Chu.

“Webinars are a great way to make students feel more connected with your institution and provide clarity and reassurance in these uncertain times.”

With the free access to the Sinorbis platform, education providers will be able to run end-to-end webinar and information campaigns in China.

More details about free access to the platform can be requested here.

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