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.”
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 fiveresiduals that will remain after COVID-19 is no longer a major threat to human life and an economic and education disrupter.
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 courselearning 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.”
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.
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.”
Covid-19 and cohort marketing What do they have in common?
Last year Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the Communist Party cadres to be prepared for unforeseen incidents (black swans) and uncontrollable rampages (gray rhinos) in the year to come. On February 27th, Nikkei Asian Review reported the following: Covid-19, the black swan that began in Wuhan and flew to all parts of China then turned into a gray rhino stomping across national borders to all parts of the world.
Although I would use a pencil when writing about the short-term and long-term implications of Covid-19, it is apparent that the virus has disrupted the economies of countries worldwide. We live in a world of vertiginous events, with norms constantly unraveling.
Higher education is not immune to worldwide economic, political and health disruptions. The current “supply-chain” of the internationally mobile student has been disrupted. Covid-19 has changed what had been the norm for international student mobility.
For this reason, I believe international deans, educators and recruiters should consider an additional way of recruiting international students.
Rationale for Cohort Marketing
Many of you reading this article have directly or indirectly been involved in recruiting domestic and international students. You have attended college fairs, collected individual information on prospective students, either in person or online, spent money purchasing lists of prospective college students or hired consulting firms to assist with yield management.
Many of you reading this article have been held solely responsible for meeting your institution’s enrollment and financial goals. Campuses throughout the world are littered with the bones of fired admission deans, international recruiters and enrollment managers.
What I am proposing in this article is adding another layer to current marketing plans: cohort marketing.
Cohort marketing is not a bag of tricks or a series of quick fixes. It is however another way of looking at a current problem in higher education marketing, recruitment, and enrollment.
Cohort marketing is recruiting groups of undergraduate and graduate students based on research and already-existing transfer, articulation and collaborative agreements.
One-by-one recruitment of students to meet enrollment and financial goals will not result in meeting these goals.
A cohort marketing team includes not only enrollment managers, deans and directors of undergraduate and graduate admission, but also brings to the table the dean or director of international students, the chief transfer officer, the director if financial aid, the director of research, the study abroad advisor and the director of alumni affairs.
A review of all current transfer and articulation agreements as well as all study abroad affiliations will reveal current schools in collaborative agreements that have the potential to enroll cohorts of students through 2-plus-2 arrangements for transfer or 3-plus-1 arrangements for degree completion.
Deans and directors of admission should identify high schools and local colleges that have the greatest potential for cohort marketing. Outreach to companies and organizations should also be investigated.
Targeted outreach to students, through online learning, is another avenue to enroll cohorts of students, especially during the summer months.
The president, vice chancellor or provost should designate a senior administrator with the authority to sign future articulation, transfer or collaborative agreements. University counsel should also be involved in the process.
The director of alumni affairs as well as all academic deans should have a seat at the table when strategic enrollment plans are written.
A certain percentage of each semester’s new enrollment goals should be assigned to cohort markets.
Premise # 9
One designated administrator, perhaps from the research department, should be assigned the task of continually investigating potential student cohort markets.
Cohort marketing is not a static exercise, something that appears in an annual report. It is an evolving enterprise and should be continually reviewed as new opportunities arise. Outcomes should be shared with all appropriate members of the collegiate community. Success of this type of marketing should be reviewed not just in terms of enrollment but also which students recruited in groups progress and graduate.
Cohort Marketing Examples
The following are examples of cohort marketing that I initiated during my tenure as vice president for enrollment and international programs at Suffolk University in Boston.
International Campus – Suffolk University established a branch campus in Dakar and enrolled students from over 40 African countries. Students studied for two years in Dakar and then, as a group, transferred to Boston to complete their undergraduate degree: cohort marketing
Two-plus Two Agreement – Suffolk University partnered with Dean College, a local two-year school. While enrolled in Dean College, students were able to take Suffolk courses taught on the Dean College campus by Suffolk faculty. Suffolk University registered groups of Dean College students in Suffolk courses: cohort marketing
Suffolk University entered into an agreement with Shanghai Lixin University of Commerce. Suffolk faculty taught students enrolled in the articulation agreement program during the summer months. Groups of Chinese students registered for Suffolk University courses: cohort marketing.
In cooperation with the registrar and the international enrollment staff, Suffolk University created an online “third semester” in the summer for Suffolk business students focusing on the courses still needed by many of the students to graduate. Groups of students, principally from the Middle East, enrolled in courses while at home for the summer: cohort marketing.
How to begin – Ten suggestions
Obtain presidential or vice chancellor support
Be certain all appropriate staff understand the need for change
Include all staff necessary for successful execution of cohort marketing
Include faculty in all cohort marketing discussions
Coordinate cohort marketing with academic objectives
Have a clear understanding of the student cohorts most likely to enroll and why
Access relevant data and research when drafting cohort marketing strategies
Concentrate on producing a few, well-targeted results
Conduct an audit of cohort marketing strategies every three months and adjust, if necessary
Give cohort marketing time to develop and mature
In an opinion article written in The South China Morning Post on March 3rd, Lawrence J. Law wrote: “We must rethink our travel and global supply chain.” I would suggest that this same sentiment is applicable to future international student mobility.
I trust I have painted a vision in this article with words and suggestions that carries the argument for adding to current international recruitment practices another method for recruiting international students to your campuses. For international deans and recruiters, buffeted by the uncertainty caused by Covid-19, a shift in perspective that encourages something completely new is not iconoclasm but it is a tocsin call to change.
What did we learn about China’s worldwide international collaborations in 2019 and what can we expect in 2020?
Article # 3
China increased its number of worldwide international collaborations.
What did we learn in:
Building on China’s US $5 trillion investment in the One Belt, One Road initiative, China signed agreements with colleges and universities in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The goal is to create a network of potential students to enroll in Chinese universities, establish exchange programs, develop research collaborations, and inaugurate branch campuses.
Of the top 15 countries enrolling students in China, 10 were from Belt and Road countries.
IN 2018, a consortium of universities collaborated to form the University Consortium of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. In 2019 China strengthened this collaboration with 60 institutions from Europe, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States.
The Asian Universities Alliance was designed to strengthen collaboration between China and countries in Southeast Asia and Africa. Joining Tsinghua University in this Alliance is Peking University, the University of Tokyo, Seoul National University, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Malaysia.
An agreement signed in December 2019 between China and Hungary allowed Fudan University to replace the Central European University in Hungary.
In September 2019 the Chinese Academy of Sciences signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Academy of Sciences to collaborate on research, skills development, and technology transfer.
What can we expect in:
China will use the Fudan campus in Hungary to gain a foothold in central and eastern Europe.
China and Hungary will create a joint technology transfer center in Chongqing that will focus on renewable energy and wastewater management.
China will continue to establish branch campuses around the world, especially in Belt and Road countries.
Chang’an University, one of China’s best schools for road, bridge, and automobile engineering, increased the number of overseas students from 409 in 2013 to 1,600 in 2019. Expect the number of overseas students in Chng’an University to increase in 2020.
Expect a more robust research collaboration between Singapore University of Technology and Design and Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics.
Expect increased enrollment in Chinese institutions of students from South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Japan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and Laos.
Expect additional Chinese branch campuses to be established worldwide.
Expect robust collaboration with African universities.
In 2018 Xinhua Education Investment Corporation purchased St. Paul’s College in Virginia, Daniel Webster College in New Hampshire, Bay State College in Massachusetts, and Dowling College in New York. Chinese investors will continue to purchase higher education institutions worldwide.
Marijk van der Wende, professor of higher education at Utrecht University’s faculty of law, economics, and government, is researching the implications of China’s collaborations around the world. Dr. van der Wende believes it is time for colleagues worldwide to regard China as one of the leaders in global higher education, research, and collaboration
Beyond the corridors of today lies a new world order. International deans and recruiters first need to agree that China’s ambitious higher education initiatives cannot be ignored or denied. China is no longer one of many players in higher education.
What did we learn about international higher education in 2019 and what can we expect in 2020?
Article # 2
The international higher education landscape shifted from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.
What did we learn in:
The worldwide geopolitical shifts that occurred in 2019 impacted international higher education and international student mobility. America’s retreat on the world stage, England’s Brexit problems, and China’s determination to make this “China’s century,” has resulted in a new world disorder.
The Global Internship Conference held in Aukland in July 2019 predicted that “The future is the Pacific.”
International student enrollment in the U.S. declined 2.9 percent for undergraduate students,1.3 percent for international graduate students and 8 percent for international non-degree students. Enrollment in English language programs declined 25.9 percent.
The number of new international students decreased by 3.4 percent.
IIE’s “Open Doors” reported that Chinese students, who make up one-third of all international student enrollments in the U.S. increased by 3.6 percent. However, in the previous year the growth in Chinese student enrollments was 6.8 percent. New Chinese student enrollment was basically flat.
A survey of U.S. colleges and universities for the fall 2019 semester revealed a 0.1 percent decline in new enrollments. 51 percent of the more than 500 institutions surveyed reported decreases.
Increased competition from regional educational hubs in China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore competed with the U.S. and UK for the internationally mobile student.
China, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan announced ambitious international student enrollment targets for 2019 and beyond.
A United Nations’ report forecasted that Asia and Africa will be the centers of economic and higher education gravity.
China exceeded its goal in 2019 of enrolling 500,000 international students by 2020.
On January 3, 2019, the U.S. State Department announced it was closing all of its offices in China that promote American education.
Several U.S. colleges and universities closed, or re-negotiated, terms of agreement with Chinese’ Confucius Institutes.
China increased its higher education dominance in Asia by signing collaborative agreements with 15 universities throughout the continent. Joining Tsinghua University in this Alliance were the University of Tokyo, Seoul National University, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Malaysia
At the opening ceremony, Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong delivered the keynote address and predicted that the Asian Universities Alliance will:
“Resolve regional and global problems and bring together outstanding talents with an international perspective to serve regional development.”
What can we expect in:
China will move up from being the world’s fifth-leading study destination.
Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan will expand their ambitious international student enrollment goals and international recruitment strategies.
Japan and South Korea will increase their international recruitment programs in Vietnam.
The Philippines will realize an increase in international students from Japan and throughout Asia.
Japan will likely meet its goal of enrolling 300,000 international students in 2020.
Proximity to home country, affordability, internship opportunities, and employability after graduation will dominate Asian international student enrollment.
The U.S. will continue to lose market share of the internationally mobile student.
The geopolitical shift from the west to the east has been occurring sub-rosa for many years. This is not a one off.
The rise of China on the world stage has changed the balance of power in the world and created new economic and geopolitical realities. Regardless of who wins the election in the U.S. in November, it will take years to unpack the perception of a country unwelcoming to international students. Perception trumps reality every time.
Students have options. So do colleges and universities in the west who have seen their market share of international students decline. But this is not the time for international deans and recruiters to rehearse a new way of thinking. The dark alchemy of disruption in the world demands a new way of thinking and planning. Shifting realities require crafting international strategic plans that include online course offerings, in-country academic programs, robust internship and employment programs, international collaborations and combined degree programs.
I believe change is a permanent part of life. I especially believe this is true if you are responsible for crafting strategic international recruitment plans in 2020.