Th Impact and Opportunities of COVID-19 on Higher Education

December 1st, 2020 by

You should worry less about Latin America’s short-term economic downturn, and more about its long-term educational decline.


      Andres Oppenheimer, The Miami Herald



The information in this section is preliminary data on student enrollment numbers for the fall 2020 semester. I will update in future bulletins.


The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported this week that enrollment in the United States declined by 2.5% for undergraduate students. Community college enrollment declined 7.5% and enrollment of international students decreased by 11.2%.


The Australian Department of Education, Skills, and, Employment Report published figures for the fall term this week. Total enrollments declined 3.2% and new student commencements decreased 18.4%.

I predict that these preliminary figures will, in the weeks to come, reveal declining student enrollment in many countries, including many countries in Europe, and Latin America. I also predict that student enrollment numbers will register increases in many countries in Asia, Southeast Asia, and China.


Data on 123,309 Indian students by Yocker revealed that interest for the 2021 academic year has shifted slightly from the United States to Canada, the UK, and Germany.

A World Education Services survey of 615 prospective international students revealed that 67% did not believe the pandemic will impact their intention to study in the United States. 20% were less interested in pursuing a degree in the US.


The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization’s report, World Tourism Barometer, reported that international travel worldwide decreased 65% in the first six months of 2020 and $460 billion has been lost in export revenue derived from cross-border tourism.

60% of Asia is still closed to tourists. In Europe the figure is 17%.


College is open, but life is shut down.

Paul Moakley, Katie Reilly, Time

As of September 22nd, more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported on US colleges and universities.


Over 800,000 Chinese students who studied in the US, UK, and Australia returned to China this year in search of employment in an already crowded domestic job market. This number increased 70% from 2019 and these returning students are competing for jobs with 8.74 million new graduates from Chinese colleges and universities, the largest number ever reported.

The implications for Chinese internal stability and future Chinese international mobility are obvious.


As the real world knocks on our door, we crave nothing more than a little direction.

                              Kristine E. Guillaume and Jeremy Tsal, Time

Higher education administrators are struggling with the unfamiliar and as the quote suggests, crave direction. But no prediction can guarantee when the virus will end, when a safe vaccine will be distributed, and when “normal” life, including college life, will resume.

No forecast is better than a random guess. So much can, and probably will, change before life returns to whatever it will be. That is why I believe it is so important for college and university chief executives to begin to reimagine now what their schools will “look like” after COVID-19 ceases to dominate our lives.

The Effect of COVID-19 on Higher Education

November 24th, 2020 by

You can never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something,
build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Buckminster Fuller



In the May 14, 2020 issue of Forbes magazine, Ann Kirschner makes the case that
the road to recovery for colleges and universities after the pandemic lies through
change and innovation. She suggests that instead of having a narrow
interpretation and mission for a school’s career services department, a new
organization headed by a new Dean-of- the-Rest-of-Your-Life be created. Ms.

Kirschner recommends that this new dean should be charged with building
strategic employment partnerships and with tracking the changing job market and
should have a seat on the president’s cabinet.
In the Reimagined University, career counseling would begin at the accepted
applicant stage and continue through all four or three years of enrollment. Robust
internship programs and alumni involvement would also be part of the career
services’ portfolio.
I participated in a webinar on June 10 th , and learned that only 6% of trustees in
the United States believe students leave college ready to be employed.
The idea of bringing career services out of the shadows was reinforced when I
read that David Green, president of Colby College in Maine, announced in May
that the college has pledged to find jobs for all of its students after graduation.
Alumni involvement is key to the success of this program.
On September 15 th , the U.S. State Department issued a sweeping advisory
warning against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, citing the risk of
“arbitrary detention” as the reason for the warning.
One of the residuals of COVID-19 will be the fundamental re-ordering of political
and economic alliances. Research and data suggests that with regard to
international student mobility, there is evidence of a shift in the preferences of
students either to remain close to home or enroll in Asian or African colleges and
Margaret Gardner, vice-chancellor of Monash University, wrote: Geopolitical
uncertainty will disrupt international education more lastingly than the current
pandemic-induced closures.
The Consumer Price Index for United States’ college tuition and fees posted a
significant decline from July to August 2020, according to the Department of
Labor statistics. The CPI slid by 0.7%, the biggest drop since 1978, according to

China’s industrial output rose in August 2020 and retail sales expanded for the
first time this year. This would suggest that China’s economic recovery is gaining
Gattopardesco means everything needs to change, so everything can stay the
Giuseppe de Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard)

Many aspects of higher education need to change and in the post COVID-19
higher education world, not much will be the same. Just saying.

The impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education

November 17th, 2020 by

I don’t think there are two universities that have the same protocol. It’s national chaos.

 Irwin Redlener, director of the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University




A majority of colleges and universities in the United States began the fall semester in the past two weeks. The following are some of the reported results:

Colleges in all 50 states have reported COVID-19 cased among students.

To date, there are more than 88,000 American college and university students infected with the virus.

The Ohio State University issued 225 interim suspensions to students who attended off-campus parties.

Several students, attending Northeastern University in Massachusetts, were suspended after attending a party in a Boston hotel. None of their $36,000 tuition and fee charges are refundable.

The University of North Carolina sent a letter to students saying the school would cancel in-person instruction for undergraduates after 130 students tested positive for the virus one week after the start of classes.

Illinois University has quarantined the entire student body after several cases of the virus were reported.

You may draw your own conclusions about the wisdom of not having a national protocol of policies and procedures for college and university semester openings.


55 million elementary and secondary school students in the United States went back to school this week and already 500,000 children tested positive for COVID-19.


The United States has revoked the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese nationals since June 2020. The decision is aimed at graduate students and researchers believed to have ties to the Chinese military. Another ruling requires any Chinese diplomat to get permission before setting foot on any college or university in the United States.

The Australian government is seeking power to veto or scrap agreements that universities have with foreign countries. The veto, if approved, would affect many of the arrangements Australian schools have with colleges and universities in China.

In the future the Indian government will require all Chinese academics in India to go through additional screening. The government is also reviewing dozens of MOUs between Indian schools and Chinese colleges and universities.

China’s National Security Law, in place since July 2020, identifies a wide range of campus activities that can be considered, by the Chinese government, as collusion with a foreign country against China. Although originally intended for schools in Hong Kong, this can potentially extend to colleges and universities worldwide.

Zoom authorities admitted they had been pressured by the Chinese government to suspend Zoom conferences that were deemed sensitive to China.

Last week I shared with you that students in certain courses, taught at Princeton and Harvard universities, will submit work using a code instead of their names.

There can be no unbundling of the political tensions between China and the United States, Australia, and India and higher education. I predict this will only increase in the future and will negatively impact Chinese and international student mobility as well as research collaboration between universities worldwide.


China has established educational cooperation and exchange agreements with 188 countries and this week announced the recognition of the higher education degrees of 54 countries and 46 international organizations. This decision will undoubtedly increase the number of graduate students and researchers seeking admission to Chinese institutions.

On September 4th, the 2020 China International Fair for Trade and Services opened. In the middle of this pandemic, 100,000 people, 18,000 corporations, organizations, and institutions from 148, countries registered to attend.

Chinese higher education policies have been marching steadily toward making China the number one importer of international students. I am more than curious to learn the number of international students who will enroll in China for the fall semester.


The University of Arizona announced that it will partner with WeWork to allow international students access to workspace in their home countries. There are 500 WeWork locations in 80 cities across 37 countries. This collaboration will allow international students, who cannot attend the University of Arizona because of the pandemic, to continue studying at the university.



I learned a new word this week: logomachy, or an argument about words. There can be no logomachy about the words I used in this week’s bulletin to describe the chaos and confusion in higher education at the beginning of the fall semester.u

The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education

November 6th, 2020 by



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

October 27th, 2020 by



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:


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