The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education III



For the past six weeks I have sent information on the impact of the pandemic on higher education. The list of recipients has increased as has the amount of information I have compiled. 


 So beginning with this week’s bulletin, I will re-format the information to include a section of facts, a section of my interpretation of the facts and a concluding section which I hope will make some of you smile.

Paul Hanstedt, director of the Center for Academic Resources and Pedagogical Excellence at Washington and Lee University, wrote the following about the impact of COVID-19 on higher education:

“The virus is breaking down the boundaries between static learning and the wicked fluidity of the world.”

It is my intention, as each of you walk down your own corridor of isolation, to illustrate the connectivity of the academic and administrative functions of higher education. 



A new survey of concerns of college and university presidents in the United States revealed that the main concern of 86% of the presidents was short-term attrition and long-tern enrollment. 

The survey also revealed:

76% of presidents planned to invest in new, online learning resources

70% planned to move admissions online

62% planned to reduce the workforce

38% planned to institute salary reductions

36% planned to reduce benefits and

28% planned to revise admissions’ standards



A survey conducted by Amherst College of 54 college counselors in China revealed that 87% are “reconsidering” studying in the United States because of safety concerns, fear of visa denial or deportation, and uncertainty about remaining in the United States after graduation. BUT 70% of the counselors suggested that if Chinese students were admitted to a prestigious college in the United States, they would choose to enroll in the U.S.


The Fulbright Program notified all 2020-21 scholars that the start date for international travel will be delayed from fall 2020 to January 2021, at least.

According to a United Nations World Tourism Organization report, 96% of all destinations worldwide have introduced travel restrictions since January 2020. As of April 6th no destination has been lifted.

International travel was suspended for 95% of faculty and staff in March. 

Passenger numbers at Heathrow Airport, Europe’s busiest airport, was down 97% last month.


According to a survey conducted by Strada Education Network, an estimated 28 million Americans, or 1 in 5, have cancelled their educational plans because of the virus.

QS collected responses of 24,000 American students at the end of April who plan to defer or cancel their study abroad plans. Only 10% said they had not changed their plans to study abroad.

One in ten American high school students who planned to attend a four-year college in the fall, full-time, no longer plan to do so.

According to a UNESCO report, the pandemic has disrupted learning for nine out of ten students, (87%).


Online learning platforms such as Open Classrooms, Future Learn, and Coursera have experienced a surge in demand.

More than 120,000 students in 1,200 schools are enrolled the Paris-based Open Classrooms.

Future Learn developed a course “How to Teach Online,” and 30,000 people signed up for the course in a few days. 

A survey conducted by Tyton Partners revealed that only 57% of American parents surveyed would continue at an institution if it offered only online education. When asked to respond to the quality of the remote instruction students were now receiving, on a scale of 1 to 10, they ranked the quality of online learning at 5.6. 

This same survey also found that parents were less likely to pay the same tuition rates as were charged before COVID-19.


Davidson College in North Carolina will allow any accepted applicant affected by COVID-19 to delay fall 2020 tuition payments for a year.

Southern New Hampshire college is offering a full-tuition scholarship for one year to any accepted applicant who enrolls at the university’s traditional campus.



Geopolitical tensions between China and Australia, Canada, France, Sweden and the United States will impact future enrollment of Chinese students in those countries. Sweden, for example, has cancelled the last of its Confucius Institutes.

Consumer behavior will determine future higher education enrollment. For example, in China, retail sales have plummeted about one-sixth in March from a year earlier.

If you want to know who may enroll this year and apply next year in your school, follow the consumer behavior patterns for each of your recruitment markets.

Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central bank, warned that the Eurozone’s economy could shrink by as much as 12% this year.

30 million American have filed for unemployment benefits by the end of April.

Shrinking economies worldwide and millions of unemployed workers will influence future enrollment of college and university students.

The National Governors Association has released a primer for states on how to handle college closures.

Will COVID-19 transform the university sector as the Black Death did in the Middle Ages? The plague that swept through Europe in the last 1340s ultimately led to a shift from a world view centered on theology to one that valued science.


The University of Alaska is furloughing its top officials, including the president, for 10 days.

Be careful who you invite for lunch. A Malaysian minister was fined $229 for eating with a group of colleagues and not observing social distancing.

Did you know that Rome turned 2,773 years old last week?

I learned a new word today: sitooterie – a small area where people sit outside.

I hope each of you has found, or will find, a suitable sitooterie.




The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education II




“Every university we have spoken to expects to be impacted by COVID-19 and for some, the potential loss of income is projected to be greater than 100 million pounds. And that is before you factor in that losing new students has a multi-year impact.”

                                                        Andrew Connors, Lloyds Banking Group


In the United States, more than 4,000 colleges and universities and 25 million students will be impacted by COVID-19. A loss of $46.6 billion in revenue is projected for the next academic year, according to the American Council on Education. 

Because of the pandemic, Johns Hopkins University will not make contributions to employees’ retirement funds for a year.

The Canadian government plans to give college students and new graduates monthly stipends of 1,250 Canadian dollars, ($844) from May through August.

Southern New Hampshire University is offering free tuition to all incoming freshmen and plans to reduce tuition to $10,000, more than a 50 percent cut.

According to a PEW Research Report, the success of on-line outreach to international students depends on income. Students from wealthier countries are more likely to embrace digital technology. In Nigeria, for example, only 13 percent of Nigerians use the internet. Offering semester-long online instruction will be limited to international students from specific countries.

According to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 91 percent of Indian students want to continue studying abroad even in COVID-19 lockdown.

40 percent of potential international students are considering changing their study abroad plans, an increase from 31 percent three weeks ago.

A survey of 415 fundraisers at 48 schools in the United States revealed that 43 percent don’t expect to meet their fundraising goals.

According to a recent report by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 60 percent of colleges and universities in the United States are considering or have already decided to remain fully on-line for the fall semester. 

Australian officials estimate that the financial loss of international students’ revenue to be between $30b-$60b.

According to an IMF report published in Nikkee Asian Review, only emerging Asian countries will have economic growth in 2020.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 38 percent of first-time students transfer schools and on average they lose 43 percent of their credits, basically one semester, and pay an extra $36,000 for an undergraduate degree.

In an attempt to rethink the academic calendar, Beloit College in Wisconsin is breaking the “normal” semester into two modules with students taking two courses each.

On April 19, 2020, in Nikkee Asian Review, the following was reported: China and South Korea are surging ahead in the international brain race for world-class universities. China has already surpassed Japan in world rankings and is closing the gap with the United States. China has poured more than $20 billion in funding into more than 100 Chinese institutions. Funding is concentrated in STEM disciplines.

Author’s Note:

In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, a cartoon caption caught my eye.

“Good news – Shakespeare is using this time to write “King Lear,” so we’ll have more stuff to binge soon.”


Next update: May 26, 2020

The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education





Jeanne Harrison, Vice President and Senior Analyst at Moody’s Investors Services, highlighting the financial impact of the pandemic on higher education, wrote: We expect rated universities in all of our current jurisdictions- US, Canada, UK, Australia, Singapore, and Mexico- to enroll fewer students for the next academic year than planned, due to the outbreak.”

On April 16th, the New York Times reported t

hat higher education trade groups have predicted a 15% decrease in enrollment nationwide in the United States, amounting to a $23 billion revenue loss.

In a recent survey of nearly 3,000 students intending to study in Canada, more than half (54%) are planning to defer their admission for a year. Another 15% have changed their plans and are no longer planning to study in Canada.

In a survey published in The Pie News on April 15th, 42% of students surveyed indicated they had no interest in studying online.  The same survey revealed that 46% of the 11,000 international students surveyed said the virus has impacted their study plans.

On April 14th, Studyportals published survey results that indicated 40% of potential international students were changing their study plans. Three weeks ago the figure was 31%. The same survey revealed that 83% of respondents believe their travel plans will be restricted and 68% think their parents’ savings will decrease because of the virus.

Several colleges and universities in the United States, including Boston University and the University of Oklahoma, are considering cancelling in-person instruction for the fall term. Beloit College is considering starting the fall term later than usual and holding two seven-week modules instead of a single semester.

The University of Connecticut created a one-credit course, “The COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts on Health, Business, and Society. More than 4,000 students  enrolled in the course.

Minnesota State University expects to cut 10 majors and more than 160 positions to defray a projected $6-million budget deficit in the 2022 fiscal year.

The president of Harvard will take a 25% salary cut. The president and provost of MIT will each take a 20% cut.  

On -the horizon-trend?  Some legislators in Pennsylvania are questioning if the state needs all 14 colleges and universities. Will consolidation follow? Will other states, in the face of state budget deficits, do the same?

The College Board has cancelled the June SAT examination. More than 50 colleges and universities have announced that SAT scores will no longer be required for admission. Schools include: Tulane, Virginia Tech, Swarthmore, Williams and the University of California, system-wide.

Officials for the SAT and ACT are in the process of creating digital versions of their tests that students can take at home.

Economic Indicators Impacting Future Higher Education Enrollment

China’s GDP shrank 6.8% for the first quarter of 2021, the first decline since 1992.

COVID-19 job losses in Asia could force 11 million people into poverty.

As of April 16th 22 million Americans, or 13.5% of the labor force, were unemployed. This represents the worst level of unemployment since the Great Depression.

Investment income in the United States, represents 9% of revenue at private universities, and 2.5% at public schools. The Hechinger Report noted last month that 75% of the $630 billion in endowment funds at U.S. institutions are invested in stocks, whose value has plunged since the pandemic’s onset. 

Declining investment returns, along with federal and state budget cuts and a decline in the number of enrolling international students, will make it necessary for colleges and universities around the world to shelve their strategic plans and create vision plans. What will your school look like after some semblance of normalcy returns and how can you communicate your vision with future applicants and students?

More to come on that subject. 

Impact of COVID-19 on Faculty, Doctoral Students, Researchers


Impact of COVID-19 on Faculty, Doctuall Students, Researchers                                            



This is not an article about the millions of people worldwide suffering from the pandemic, COVID-19. This is not an article about locked down cities, overwhelmed medical facilities, stock market declines, tattered travel plans or cancelled national and international conferences, sporting events, and concerts.

This is an article written for the full-time and part-time faculty, researchers, and doctoral students who have been, and will continue to be, impacted by the pandemic. No one knows when this crisis will be over or when life as we knew it will be restored. What we do know is that whether you are a teacher, student or researcher your academic and administrative life will be different. 

Recognizing that it is unwise to make predictions about the future, I do think COVID-19 will impact higher education long after the pandemic is no longer a threat to human life and an economic and higher education disrupter. 

The lens through which I look is cloudy, at best. Disruptions and upheavals are not the usual companions of logic and reason. And the dark alchemy of fear and uncertainty walk the halls of academic institutions worldwide, often paralyzing clear thinking and bold decision making.

 COVID-19 is estimated to cost American colleges and universities $41 billion. Many colleges and universities, even before the pandemic, were struggling financially and stuck with business models that no longer made sense.

 Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded higher education’s outlook in the United States from stable to negative. Michael Osborn, a vice president who monitors universities at Moody’s, wrote: “Just over 30% of public universities and nearly 30% of private universities were already running operating deficits.”

According to Forbes’ 2019 College Financial Grades ranking, some 675 of the 933 private-not-for profit colleges scored a grade of C and below, meaning their balance sheets are weak and their operations are fragile.

What will this mean for faculty, researchers and graduate and doctoral students? Some schools may close or merge as a result of the financial strain brought about by fewer national and international students. Some schools may close or merge departments. Most schools will increase online teaching and decrease classroom instruction. For many professors this will mean re-organizing how they teach their courses and grade their students. 

We don’t know how grades will be awarded for the spring semester. We don’t know how college transcripts will record this period in time. We don’t know how colleges and universities will hold graduation ceremonies. We don’t know when the fall semester will begin, how many first-year students will enroll and how many second year students will return.

All of these uncertainties will and must impact teaching and research priorities. 

As a researcher who focuses on international student mobility, I was already working on a research project. COVID-19 changed the focus of my future research projects because international student mobility has been disrupted by the pandemic, perhaps forever. For example, international deans and recruiters can no longer count on a certain number of students coming from China, the largest source of international students in the United States. I doubt American colleges and universities will ever realize the number of Chinese students previously enrolled in the United States. The financial implications need no explanation.

Some of you reading this article may be forced, like me, to press the pause button on current research projects because of changed priorities of your college or university.

Many of you reading this article regularly attend national and international conferences to meet with colleagues, present papers and share research projects. Maybe you were planning to teach for a semester or year at an international school. Because of the pandemic, most colleges and universities have banned travel for faculty and staff. Once the crisis passes, teleconferencing, zoom meetings and conference calls may replace face-to-face meetings.

We are living in a world where norms are constantly unraveling around the edges. At the intersection of disruption and unpredictability will emerge a new model for higher education. COVID-19 has created a new world order requiring a shift in perspective and thinking and demanding creative solutions to higher education’s problems. 

There may be some opportunities that will be the legacy of COVID-19. 

Demand for higher education is not inelastic. Increasing costs, stagnant revenues, changing demographics, increased competition for students, and a decline in the “value” of a college degree, will force higher education leaders  to re-examine antiquated business models, re-examine annual tuition cost increases and encourage collaboration, rather than competition, between schools.

Academic and administrative discussions are taking place all across the country to re-structure the academic year, change semester lengths, and move away from seat-time as the prime model for earning credit. 

Consider the following:

“In 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the plague. Isaac Newton decided to work from home. He discovered calculus and the laws of motion. Just saying.”

                                               Paddy Cosgrove, chief executive of Web Summit


COVID-19 The Residuals

COVID-19        The Residuals

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines residual as that which remains. 


This is not an article about the 300 million people worldwide who are not in workplaces or classrooms because of COVID-19. This is not an article about locked down cities, overwhelmed medical facilities, stock market declines, travel plans in tatters or cancelled conferences, sporting events, and concerts. 

This is an article that will attempt to calculate what the worldwide economic and higher education landscape will look like after the threat of COVID-19 has dissipated; what remains.

The lens through which I look is cloudy, at best. Disruptions and upheavals are not the usual companions of logic and reason. And the dark alchemy of fear and unpredictability walk the halls of corporations and universities alike making it difficult, no impossible, to predict with precision what remains.

Recognizing that it is unwise to make predictions about the future, I nevertheless believe there are at least five residuals that will remain after COVID-19 is no longer a major threat to human life and an economic and education disrupter.

They are:

 No. 1 

 Supply chains. For both goods and internationally mobile students, these have been disrupted and will require diversification in the future. About 5 million companies worldwide have Chinese suppliers, according to the data company, Dun & Bradstreet. COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of overreliance on Chinese suppliers. Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, as well as many Japanese companies, are actively seeking to diversify their supply chain away from China to other countries.

Colleges and universities worldwide, especially those in countries heavily dependent on Chinese student enrollments, like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, can no longer expect Chinese students to enroll in the numbers they have for decades.

 According to the Institute of International Education, three-quarters of American colleges and universities have reported the negative impact of COVID-19 on recruitment this year. It is important to keep in mind that 370,000 students, or 33.7% of America’s total international students, are from China.

 Decreased enrollment of Chinese students has already impacted the economies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 

 Conversely, the Chinese master plan to become the #1 importer of international students is in question. University deans and recruiters will be hard pressed to recommend, without reservation, future exchange programs on Chinese campuses. In a survey of more than 2,000 students from Africa, Asia, and Australia, conducted by QS, nearly 3 in 10 said their plans had changed due to the virus. It is impossible to estimate what percentage of the students responding to this survey would have studied in China.


On-line learning. The list is too long and changes daily of the number of colleges and universities worldwide that have suspended, or ended, in-person instruction and replaced it with on-line teaching.

The wisdom and necessity of increased on-line and massive open online course learning options can no longer be denied. Presidents, vice-chancellors, provosts, and academic deans will be forced to re-consider what part of their educational delivery will be offered in person and what part will be offered on-line.


Recruitment and admission practices.  Across Asia, entrance examinations have been delayed which will eventually affect the 2020 fall intake of first-year students. In Japan, schools have been ordered to stay closed until mid-April, and Hong Kong has suspended classes until late April. China’s cancellation of SAT, TOEFL, GRE and GMAT examinations will impact future undergraduate and graduate school enrollment in the United States for the fall semester.

 Admission deans and recruiters in the future will embrace on-line outreach to prospective students. Flexible application deadlines and a review of qualifying credentials will require re-evaluation of current recruitment and admission practices.

 Algorithms, used to calculate expected yields of accepted students, may no longer be valid. College fairs, accepted student receptions and traditional orientation programs may no longer be possible.

 Nunzio Quacquarelli, QS’s Chief Executive Officer, stated: “The global higher education sector should aim to be flexible on application deadlines and delayed start dates.”  

No. 4 

 Travel. Most companies and colleges and universities have banned all non-essential travel for employees. Teleconferencing opportunities will partially replace long distance travel as both faculty and administrators re-evaluate recruitment travel and attendance at academic conferences. 

No. 5 

Enrollment choices. Specific cohorts of students will opt to study closer to home. According to a report published by QS, prospective Asian students may increasingly look to intra-regional universities. Spencer Hawkes, director of special projects, told The Pie News, “I think there is a clear trend that more Asian students will look to study in Asia. This is happening already.” Currently, Malaysia is the leading study destination in Asia.

Simon Emmett, CEO of IDP Connect, told The Pie News, that a significant number of students are exploring study options in Malaysia, Korea and Singapore.


We live in a world where norms are constantly unraveling around the edges. At the intersection of disruption and unpredictability will emerge a new model for the world’s economy and for higher education. COVID-19 has created a new world order requiring a shift in perspective and necessitating thinking in different ways. For heads of state and corporate global leaders, as well as higher education administrators, a shifting perspective will hopefully encourage different perspectives and eventually encourage re-alignment of markets and students.

 There are several opportunities that will also be residuals from COVID-19. But that’s another article with a different lens.

“In 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the plague. Issac Newton decided to work from home. He discovered calculus & the laws of motion. Just saying.”

                                                        Paddy Cosgrove, chief executive of Web Summit