About Marguerite Dennis

Marguerite Dennis has been recruiting internationally for over 25 years, first at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and then at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. During that time she was responsible for establishing a branch campus for Suffolk University in Dakar, Senegal and Madrid, Spain. Marguerite increased the international student population at Suffolk University by 193% from 1993 to 2011 and increased the number of study abroad programs by 135%, from 20 to 47. She monitored the recruitment programs for Suffolk University in 20 countries and hired a network of 10 international educational consultants. She signed agreements in Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Germany, Mexico, France and Argentina.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education



The “blueprint for greatness” will almost certainly require adaptation.

Michael Crowe, president, Arizona State University, quoting Jonathan Cole, provost emeritus of Columbia University


COVID-19    Worldwide economic trends and the Impact on higher education

Three years ago, I wrote International Student Mobility and the New World Disorder. International student mobility, according to the book’s basic premise, will be impacted by the economic, geopolitical, technological and societal changes and disruptions occurring worldwide. Today, I would add a public health crisis creates an economic crisis that creates an educational crisis.

Consider the following:

The IMP predicts the world’s economy will shrink 49% this year.

U.S. second-quarter GDP plunged 32.9%.

Consumer spending in the U.S. decreased 10% from what it was a year ago. Clothing sales fell 79% in the U.S. in April. (However, purchases of sweatpants increased by 80%.)

The US Department of Commerce reported that US apparel imports from China dropped 30% in 2019 and 20% in the first half of this year. Viet Nam improved its market share of the US apparel market by 16% over the same period.

UK economy has contracted 20.4% – August 13, 2020 report.

South Korea officially entered a recession, its first in 17 years.

Malaysia’s economy contracted 17.1% in the second quarter of this year.

Australia has forecasted the biggest postwar fiscal deficit since WWII.

There are 15 million unemployed people in the European Union, an increase of 700,000 since April.

China and Russia are partnering to reduce their dependence on the dollar, a development that could lead to a “financial alliance” between the two countries. For the first quarter of 2020, the dollar’s share of trade between China and Russia fell below 50% for the first time on record. Source: Russia’s Central Bank

Higher education takeaway

Future worldwide higher education enrollment will be impacted by future economic realities.

In August the Hechinger Report revealed that more than 500 colleges and universities in the U.S. are showing signs of financial stress. Nearly 30% of four-year schools brought in less tuition revenue per student in 2017-18 than they did in 2009-10.

Several of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges are on the brink of unsustainability. In Pennsylvania, 5 of the 14 four-year campuses that make up the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education were in dire financial straits before the pandemic. 

China Update

“My impression is that the day is not far distant when China will make the most rapid strides and become dangerous rivals to all powers interested in the trade of the East.”

Ulysses S. Grant, 18th president of the United States, in 1879, on visiting Shanghai

China’s One Belt, One Road initiative connects over 65 countries and nearly 63% of the world’s population. The economic results of the trade agreement have yet to be realized. And the implications of this strategic alliance for higher education have yet to materialize. But I maintain that President Grant’s prediction will eventually become reality.

 On August 10th the Nikkei Asian Review reported that China has passed the US as the world’s top research country. Last year China published 19.9% of all scientific papers and the US published 18.3% of all peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

In 2019, 400,000 Chinese students were enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, contributing an estimated $15 billion to the US economy. However, in the same year, Chinese enrollment increased by 6,000 students, the lowest number in the past 10 years. 

The US has cancelled the Fulbright Program in China and Hong Kong, a program that was initiated in 1980, at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

This week the US State Department designated the DC-based Office for Confucius Institutes as a “foreign mission” of the PRC and will require the office to make regular reports to the State Department on personnel, activities and curriculum of all Confucius Institutes in the US.  An estimated 45 colleges and universities in the US have closed their Confucius Institutes over the past few years.

Higher Education Trends

College enrollment in the US is down to 18 million from a peak of 20 million in 2011.

Takeaway: Every industry that has excess capacity ends up consolidating.” Ricardo Azziz, co-author of a book on mergers.

In an ECMC Group survey, American 2,200 teenagers ages 14-18, revealed that more than 50% of those polled, are open to getting something other than a traditional four-year degree. And 70% want to chart their own educational path.

Takeaway: Reimagined colleges and universities will initiate flexible educational programs.

Although the numbers are not yet set in stone, many colleges and universities are reporting increased enrollment in masters’ degree programs. The same is true of many community colleges. For example, In Ohio, Zane University’s enrollment campaign – “Stay home. Stay safe. Stay on track” stresses the importance of enrolling in their university for two years and living at home during the pandemic and then transferring to a four-year school for degree completion.

Takeaway: Reimagined colleges and universities have signed articulation and two-plus two agreements with all local community colleges.   

India is poised and ready to become the largest student market due to a growing and aspirational middle class.

Takeaway: International deans and recruiters should consider the Indian market as a potential source of students to replace the declining numbers of Chinese students. 


Author’s Note:

I think the pandemic will change forever:

Airport screening

Mall shopping

Movie attendance

In-person visits to a doctor

Any activity that involves crowds of people

Funding of pension plans



The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education



Can’t be playing for the economy of now.


Frank Luntz, American pollster


I believe Mr. Luntz’s quote could also apply to higher education. For a variety of valid reasons, higher education administrators have been focusing on the higher education of now. I have focused my research and attention on higher education in the future and have been pleased to share some of my insights and predictions with you for the past five months. 

I am honored to report that my white paper, The Reimagined University, has been written and will be published by University World News, in three installments.

The September 12th issue will list the reasons for creating a Reimagined University.

The September 19th issue will list the residuals left in the wake of the pandemic on higher education.

The September 26th issue will present the opportunities of COVID-19 on higher education in the future.

You can access the entire white paper by logging onto: https://www.universityworldnews.com


Although it is too soon to report definitive figures for the number of students worldwide who took advantage of online learning during the pandemic, there is some evidence to suggest that higher education has been made accessible to an increased number of students from the safety and security of their homes. The potential for making higher education less selective and more egalitarian is positive residual of the pandemic.

Meric Gertler, president of the University of Toronto wrote: There is the potential for the worldwide embrace of virtual interaction to have a kind of leveling effect.


Chinese exports soared reaching their second-highest level ever in 2020. China’s share of global exports rose nearly 20% in the April to June quarter.

Chinese universities are surging in international university rankings. Tsinghua University, in a recent Times Higher Education’ ranking report of 1,250 universities in 86 countries, is for the first time, in the top 20 of all universities.

This year, China is having the largest increase in students listing the country as their top educational choice destination. An increase of 121% is expected from academic year 2020 to 2021. Final fall semester enrollment will reveal the actual percentage increase.


Ho Chi Minh city is promoting itself as a regional financial hub. The city’s first phase as a financial center is to provide financial services to neighboring countries, such as Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. The following phase is to provide services to a wider number of countries in southeast Asia.

Viet Nam has been one of a few countries that so far, seems to have weathered the devastation of COVID-19. I would watch this country for increased international student mobility.  


In August 2020, the United States announced it is now requiring all Confucius Institutes in the United States to register as a foreign mission, a destination that requires that the organization regularly provide information to the State Department about its personnel, recruiting, funding, and operations in the US.

Australia is investigating university links and ties with China. The government’s probe of Chinese interference centers around technology transfer.

We cannot separate the geopolitical tensions between China and these two countries from future Chinese student enrollments in the United States and Australia. I suspect that in both countries fewer Chinese students will enroll in the fall 2020 semester. I will share actual enrollment numbers as they become available.


Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, reported this week a 300% increase since February in the number of users.  Increased usage from students in South Korea was Mr. Kham’s first indication that something had changed. He was unaware of COVID-19 in February.  


In his article on the future of the workplace, Frank Luntz urges readers to forget the word work and focus on career. Lifelong learning is essential, he writes and students are being more selective about the courses they take and the majors they pursue. Short courses, boot camps, certificate programs in digital marketing and medical services, for example, are the types of programs gaining traction among higher education learners.

In the Reimagined University, chief innovation officers, chief financial officers, academic deans and career counselors, have been successful in adding shorter courses and certificate programs during the academic year. 



To date, 231 class action lawsuits have been filed by students and parents in the United States to receive a reduction in tuition and fee charges. The rationale for the lawsuits is based on the same tuition being charged for online learning and  in-person instruction during the Spring 2020 semester.

In the Reimagined University, the chief financial officer created a differential pricing structure based on the method of instruction. No need for a lawsuit.


Change is coming, whether you like it or not.

Greta Thunberg, Swedish teen-ager who inspired a global climate strike

The Effect of COVID-19 on Higher Education



  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

                             The New Yorker






Students from all over the world want to send a thank you message to university officials for all they are doing for students during this difficult time. # Thank University.  More to come on this effort.

According to an unpublished study by Parthenon’s Global Education Practices, demand for Study Abroad programs will surge after the pandemic subsides. For now, 79% of American colleges and universities expect to experience a decline in their study abroad programs.



According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, as of July 27th, only 12% of U.S. colleges will teach fully online for the fall semester. But that percentage is changing daily.

According to an ICEF Monitor survey, 92% of the 520 schools responding to the survey are planning to use a hybrid learning model for the fall semester.


87% of all U.S. schools are offering accepted international students the option to defer enrollment until the Spring semester. 20% of Harvard’s first-year students, 340 students, have chosen to defer their admission for a year.

As of July 30th, 57,855 international students have been accepted at 286 U.S. colleges and universities and 4,488 have deferred to the spring semester. 

In a Reimagined University first-year students who elected to defer enrollment for a semester or a year year because of the virus would have been assigned a GAP year project that would have earned them credits toward their degree.

India’s Ministry of Education has introduced the National Education Policy 2020 which will allow the world’s top-rated universities to operate in India.

Author’s recommendation: For many reasons, the Chinese supply-chain of students has been broken and Chinese students will never enroll in international colleges and universities in the numbers previously recorded. International deans of admission should look elsewhere in the future to replace their number of Chinese students. India may be a good place to begin to search.

In a Reimagined University international recruitment will focus on in-country enrollment, articulation agreements and two-plus-two-degree completion arrangements and less on college fairs, agent referrals, and school visits. Cohort marketing, or enrolling groups of students from a single source, will replace outmoded recruitment practices.


According to information from the Center for Global Development, a Sino-American trade war could cost the U.S. $1 billion in lost tuition next year.

The growth rate for Chinese students in America has decreased from an average of 22% annually to just 5%. 

 Why I don’t believe Chinese students will leave China to study abroad in the future as they have in the past.

China’s Double-First Class program, initiated in 2015, has allocated more than 300 billion yuan to improve the teaching and research capability of Chinese colleges and universities. There are 42 participating Chinese institutions. The results are impressive. For example, Tsinghua University’s civil engineering, computer science and engineering departments topped Harvard University, MIT, and Stanford Universities in a recent US News and World Report’s Best Global Universities publication.

Better quality instruction in China decreases the incentive to study at “quality” institutions abroad.

On August 7th, The Telegraph reported 18% of job applicants are less likely to receive a callback if they have a U.S. degree.

The average cost of a college degree in China is $1,600. The average cost in the U.S. is $26,820. Although China reported today a 7.2% increase in export numbers from a year earlier. China’s GDP shrank 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020, the first decline since 1992. Many Chinese families simply cannot afford to send their children abroad to study.

Visa policies in many countries throughout the world are confusing and ambiguous, making it difficult for families to plan.

COVID-19 rates of infection are worse in many countries than they are in China.

Final Note: Underpinning all of the above reasons for fewer Chinese students studying abroad is the geopolitical conflict between China and many countries, including the U.S., Canada, and Australia.


The Impact of COVID-19 Virus on Higher Education

“It’s only when the tide goes out, that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”

Warren Buffett


Given the cornucopia of bad news over the past five months, it’s refreshing to acknowledge when something goes right. In last week’s bulletin I wrote about the proposed U.S. federal rules prohibiting international students to legally enroll in fall classes if the classes were only taught on-line. For seven days we all chased after this shiny object and planned for the worst. And then on July 15th, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs wrote:

“I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution. The government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 policy directive.”

The voices of 200 American colleges and universities in 17 states prevailed. 



It’s too early for anyone to define the reimagined student but it’s not too early to suggest a few attributes of the post COVID-19 college and university student.

The Reimagined Student:

Will enroll in schools with well-established health protocols

Will enroll in schools that have a proven track record of putting students first

Will enroll in schools closer to home

Will enroll in schools that offer year-long classes

Will enroll in schools that offer a reasonable schedule of in-person and online instruction

Will enroll in schools that can map out a reasonable schedule for degree completion at the time of acceptance and deposit

Will enroll in schools that assign academic and financial aid advisors at the time of acceptance and deposit

Will enroll in schools that provide accepted students with the approximate cost of degree completion 

Will enroll in schools with robust career counseling and internship programs and

Will enroll in schools that assign alumni mentors to accepted and deposited students. 


Rice University in Houston, Texas is building nine large outdoor classrooms. The university has purchased five open-sided circus tents and another four semi-permanent structures and will offer specific classes outdoors during the fall semester.

Fairfield University in Connecticut offered 1,150 accepted incoming students the opportunity to take an online summer class. As of July 6th, 887 incoming students enrolled in the class. Perhaps “summer melt” will not be a big issue for Fairfield?

Bentley University in Massachusetts is offering a free summer class as part of a flexible Trimester Program that will begin in the fall. Perhaps Bentley has already acknowledged that the previous academic calendar is no longer relevant?


The latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine focuses on the reshaping of the global order with China taking the lead, including being the world’s leader in education

 Professor Youmin Xi, executive president of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, speaking at the Going Global Conference said:

“In the face of crisis and new situations, individuals and organizations are presented with valuable opportunities to boldly innovate and plan for future transformation.”

Prior to COVID-19 more than 600,000 Chinese students studied worldwide. Many colleges and universities, including schools in the U.S., UK, Australia and Canada, depended on the revenue from these students to meet their enrollment and fiscal goals.

But this prior trend of Chinese students may change. Geopolitical disputes with the U.S., UK, Australia, and Canada, may impact the number of Chinese students studying in those countries in the future. 

U.S.-China relations, in particular, are in free fall and Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, predicts that the situation will worsen the in the months to come.

We are naïve to think that even after the virus is contained, Chinese students will enroll in the same numbers as before. This cohort of students simply has too many options. Of course top tier schools will continue to be of interest to Chinese students and parents but the virus has left Chinese families economically insecure and politically wary of being educated in western countries.

Chinese student mobility has, in my opinion, moved from the Atlantic to the Indian ocean.


“It’s 2022. What Does Life Look Like?” David Leonhardt, in his sagacious New York Times article, (July 12,2020), predicts the long-term, negative impact of the virus on several industries, including retail, publishing, restaurants, department stores, cruise ships, theme parks, and colleges and universities. Any industry, the author writes, that depends on close human contact is at risk, and that includes colleges and universities.

But let’s end on a positive note. Emily Oster, a Brown University economist, writes in this same article: “A downturn is an opportunity to revisit inefficiencies.” 

I think it is also a good time to reimagine and plan for what your school will “look like” in the future.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education

                         THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HIGHER EDUCATION                 

“There is only one way out of this. It is, of course, by rethinking our education.”

C.P. Snow, former professor, Cambridge University and author of The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution



In the reimagined university the registrar is re-named graduation counselor and the career counselor is renamed lifelong learning counselor.

These two administrators, rarely having a seat at the strategic planning table, should have a seat at the vision planning table.

The graduation counselor has the ability, to outline for accepted applicants and their families, the courses that should be taken in sequence that could “guarantee,” if followed, progression and graduation in two, three or four years. Applicants would have this information before making an enrollment decision.

Potential outcome: Increased yield rates, less student debt and better progression and graduation rates.

Lifelong learning counselors have the ability to inform accepted and deposited applicants about internship opportunities at the beginning of their academic career, not as they approach the final year of enrollment as is often the case.

Students and their families would have this information before enrollment.

Potential outcome: Increased yield rates, better graduation and retention rates and earlier collaboration between potential employers and alumni.

Both of these suggestions build upon the previous recommendations for a reimagined university, including offering classes yearlong, both in person and online.

Another quote from C.P. Snow is relevant to the times:

“The imperative for adaptability, rigor, and quick but astute decision making is obvious. Because academic wristwatches mark time in increments of quarters or semesters, clock speed may need to be calibrated. Faculty committees tend to deliberate while shifts in policy, culture, and technology flash by at warp speed.”

Adaptation is part of life.

Or as the management consultant, Peter Drucker wrote, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”



“The mean-spirited policy is ignorant and ominous.” So wrote Brian Rosenberg, president emeritus of Macalester College, referring to the July 6th ruling by the Trump administration requiring all international students, those in the United States and those international students planning to enroll in the fall semester, to take courses only in person and not online. 

Colleges and universities were given nine days to respond with their teaching plans for the fall semester to meet the requirement.

This amounts to a new travel ban for F-1 students and could affect one million international students and cost the U.S. $41 billion in revenue.

A list of 40 colleges and universities in the United States with largest number of international students, included the following:*

NYU – 17,552 international students  –  30.8% of budget

Columbia University  –  14,615 international students  –  44.6% of budget

 USC  –  16,075 international students  –  32.3% of budget

Stanford University  –  5,650 international students  –  27% of budget

Harvard University  –  6,117 international students  –  15% of budget

Boston University  –  9,742 international students  –  23.5% of budget

Carnegie-Melon University  –  8,604 international students  –  56.4% of budget

Northeastern University  –  14,905 international students  –  53.6% of budget

Cornell University  –  6,775 international students  –  23.5% of budget

If you added up the number of international students attending California schools listed in this report the number is 68,174.

 Some of the most prestigious and generously endowed colleges and universities in the United States, with a substantial portion of their budgets met by international students, will be in trouble if these students are not allowed to enroll in the fall semester. Of course, everything is relative. But I was surprised at the high percentage of budgets met by international students at NYU, USC, Stanford, Northeastern, Columbia, BU, Cornell, and Carnegie Melon. 

*Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

On July 9th, Harvard, MIT and Northeastern University sued the Department of Homeland Security over this policy.

“We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students – and international students at institutions across the country- can continue their studies without the threat of deportation.”

                              Lawrence S. Bacow, President, Harvard University


More bad news for international students and scholars. According to the Alliance for International Exchange, the suspension of certain visa categories, including H-1B, H-2B and some L and J non-immigrant visa categories, could cost the United States’ economy more than $223 million dollars and more than 7,000 jobs.

My colleague and co-author, Gretchen Dobson, sent me an article detailing how geopolitical tensions between Australia and China have spilled over into Chinese students’ decisions about studying in Australia. Less than 50% of Chinese students plan to return to Australia to study.

Some families and colleges and universities are investigating purchasing tuition insurance to protect against future enrollment uncertainties. GradGuard, is a tuition insurance company with 300 private and public institutions enrolled in their tuition insurance program.

Some UK universities are considering chartering planes to bring international students from India and China to their campuses to begin classes in the fall semester. Jamie Arrowsmith, assistant director of policy at Universities UK International, said it was supporting institutions by exploring the logistics and costs of chartering flights.

The UK has announced the creation of an “Office for Talent,” as part of a plan to attract high-caliber research talent in order to make the UK a scientific superpower.

Enrollment managers at several small private and public regional colleges in the U.S. report they are very near to meeting their new student enrollment goals for the fall semester. Returning students’ enrollment, at the colleges polled, is also strong. 

How did this happen?

“We threw all the models out the window.” Todd Rinehart, vice president/chancellor for enrollment at the University of Denver.



I am gratified by the comments I have received over the past 15 weeks from many of you reading these bulletins. “Bulletin distribution” has increased from a small group of colleagues to vice chancellors, presidents, international deans and consultants in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and the United States.

I am grateful to all who read and respond to my axiomatic suggestions of the moment. And I often try to reimagine what the next 15 weeks will bring. 

Stay tuned.