The global outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) has already had a dramatic impact on Universities and business schools around the world. Significant decisions have been made by some of the major Universities around the world. International students are more anxious then ever as their future career prospects are completely dependent on the decisions made by these universities, but the irony being that even the Universities are uncertain about the dynamic.
If you are a current or prospective student, being anxious is completely justified as your career plans have been put on hold due to the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Considering the current scenario, and the steps being taken by the Universities around the globe, here are some extensive trends to watch out for in the context of ‘Education abroad’ in 2020:
1) Universities taking the online alternative:
Due to the enforced lockdown, the Universities have been forced to look for efficient ways of ensuring that the education of students remains unaffected.
Online lectures have already been implemented by several Universities worldwide, for the current students. For the prospective students who will be starting with their academic years this fall, Universities are already planning online lectures as well as webinars, in order to ensure that even if the COVID-19 situation is not contained until then, the academic year can be commenced on time.
At University of Michigan, classes are currently being offered in alternative formats and all exams will be held remotely. All on-campus and off-campus admissions events have been cancelled until the end of April and campus visits are strongly discouraged.
University of Manchester claims, that for international students, deadlines will be extended to receive transcripts and other documentation.
2) Online Entrance exams and Virtual Interviews:
The online alternatives are not only pertinent to classes, even the Entrance examinations are to be conducted via an online platform.
Universities have already started preparing for alternative form of assessments, in order to ensure that the application processes for the subsequent academic intakes are not affected.
Virtual Interviews were already in place, but now the Universities will be suing them as an extensive measure to interview the prospective candidates, and in some cases where online entrances are not possible, they will be substituted by virtual interviews.
3) Change in factors for college shortlisting:
There are certain factors that the students and their parents have in mind while assessing their choice of Universities. Some of these are:
- University reputation
- University ranking
- Job prospects
- Student body
- Clubs and activities
Based on the prevailing circumstances, there will certainly be a change in factors that the students should be considering, when selecting a suitable university for themselves. These factors are:
- Healthcare facilities: The quality of healthcare amenities, and presence of a medical facility near the university campus will be considered a matter of priority.
- Community presence: For Internationals students, it takes a while for them to adjust in the new surroundings, and blend in the cultural setting of the University.
4) Students deferring the offers:
Some of the leading Universities in the USA, the UK and Europe, have observed that the students who had already received the offers for the 2020 intake, are deferring their offers by a year. The trend certainly will rise, considering the unfortunate turn of events in the last couple of weeks. It is necessary that the Universities are being more flexible about the acceptance deadlines, and with the fee payment instalments to allow the students to be sure about their respective decisions.
5) Research Opportunities to rise extensively:
The outbreak of COVID-19, has highlighted the research gap we are facing even in this age of medical advancement. The team of best medical researchers around the world have not been successful as of yet, in finding a cure for this pandemic. Moving forward, a lot of emphasis will be given to research oriented domains, as the opportunities will be increasing for the same. Domains like pharmacology, virology, genomics, epidemiology and bioinformatics, are to gain the due importance. Students who were earlier considering a traditional degree program, might want to consider specialised research domains.
6) Future proof career choices:
The global economy has taken a hit, due to the ongoing crisis. Several industries have been effected due to the enforced lockdown. During these testing times, millions of employees globally have started reporting unemployment, as well as salary cuts. Taking into consideration the current situation, some careers still remain unaffected, rather have gained subsequent importance. Medical professionals, data analysts, researchers, journalists, and engineers, are some of the professions that have sailed through these uncertain times, and emerged as future proof career choices.
7) Summer Schools and Exchange programs may be cancelled:
Summer schools and exchange programs have gained significant appreciation in the latter half of the decade gone by, with high school students participating in such opportunities now more than ever. Summer programs have become more accessible to international students as earlier only a limited number of Universities in the United States were offering them, but now some of the major Universities in Europe are offering such programs for high school students, and they are more affordable in comparison to those offered by the schools in the US. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak it seems likely that majority of these programs will be cancelled, and if not then online alternatives for the same will be held.
8) Online Certifications to gain importance:
The Ivy League schools along with several other Universities around the world, are offering free online certification courses via platforms like Coursera, edX and Class Central. From courses in psychology, to data science, there are plethora of courses to choose from. These courses are being delivered by professors who are Professors at major schools like Yale, Oxford, and NYU among others. These online certifications can help you build your profiles, while you miss out on co- curricular activities in school due to the lockdown.
These are difficult times for prospective students, and International Universities. In retrospect students will certainly reconsider their decision to study at a university abroad, and as a result the total number of applications received by the Universities from international students is bound to observe a downfall. Subject choices will be reflected upon, and as a result career choices may be effected. The battle of adjusting to online platforms will be a challenge for Universities as well as students. The trends seem to be intriguing for education abroad for the year 2020, but we hope that the universities and students are able to see it through.