The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education



Moonshot thinking starts with picking a big problem: something huge, lon                                                                              Astro Teller, director, Google X




I think you would agree with me that Mr. Teller’s quote could apply to how the pandemic has impacted the world and the future of higher education. 

This week’s bulletin includes a new section outlining my vision of the reimagined university. This week will focus on vision plans. In subsequent weeks I will write about my vision for:

The reimagined admission process

The reimagined registration process

The reimagined career counseling process

The reimagined alumni process



Most of you reading this bulletin have participated in strategic planning. The “usual suspects” of provost, academic deans, etc. engage in creating three, five or ten year plans for the future. In the reimagined university strategic plans are not abandoned but are supplemented by vision planning.

The vision planning committee is chaired by the institution’s chief innovation officer who is responsible for thinking “without a box” and for “horizon thinking.”

Members include:

Head of design who works with the buildings and grounds staff to reconfigure the campus for the long-term. (The recommendation for the need for a reconfigured campus was made by Eric Schmidt, former chair and CEO of Google.)

Admission counselor and registrar and financial aid director who work together with applicants and their families to create an admission, financing, registration, progression and graduation program presented to the family at the time of application/acceptance. The plan details how students can graduate in 2,3, or 4 years as well as the cost for the undergraduate degree.

Faculty member who can address consumer behavior trends and who can work as a liaison with admission recruiters to articulate consumer trends that can impact future recruitment planning.

Career counselors who can help develop and assign internships for enrolled students and work with the registrar to create a transcript listing the competencies earned in each class, not just the courses taken.

Alumni director who can work with academic deans to create a list of courses to offer alumni at the time of graduation.

This list of eight administrators and faculty is not complete, but it is a start. 

A friend who reads these weekly bulletins wrote last week: “Adaptation is part of life.”

I envision the vision committee not replacing the strategic planning committee but being the adaptive committee for the reimagined university.



Harvard University announced this week that standardized testing will be optional for the 2021 entering class.

Is this the beginning of the end for ACT and ACT examinations and the end of test prep counseling? Jack Ma thinks so. In a recent issue of Barron’s, he wrote:

“When we invented cars, we didn’t teach our kids to run faster than a car. When we invented planes, we didn’t teach our kids to fly. Now that we have computers, we don’t need to teach our kids to score well on standardized tests. We don’t need them to remember what they can look up on their hand-held devices.”


 Last week The Chronicle of Higher Education printed survey results of faculty and administrators’ opinions of remote learning in the spring semester.

65% of faculty reported that their students’ access to technology was challenging

79% of administrators found new administrative procedures challenging

49% of faculty agreed that their institution’s online courses offered in the spring were inferior to what was offered in person

Only 19% of faculty were not confident about teaching entirely or mostly online in the fall semester.

Author’s note: Bloomberg Business reported that 70% of U.S. faculty had never taught an online course before the spring semester.

More than 1,100 faculty and graduate students at Penn State University signed an open letter urging administrators to allow them to choose whether or not to hold classes in person.


According to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, of the 333 colleges and universities surveyed in the U.S., endowments had declined by 13.4%. 


This week Zoom decided to shut down the accounts of two, US-based Chinese accounts.


Legislation was passed in the U.S. Senate this week that would place new restrictions on colleges and universities in the U.S. that host Confucius Institutes.

Author’s note: Expect the geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China to negatively impact future enrollments of Chinese students in the U.S. and American students studying in China.

The Qatar Foundation sponsored report, New schools of Thought: Innovation models for delivering higher education is worth reading. The report, written by the Intelligence Unit of The Economist, lists five innovative higher education models:

Online university,

Cluster model

Experiential model

Liberal arts colleges

Partnership model.



Re-Up Ed, a consulting firm, helps colleges and universities contact students who stopped out before completing a degree. 90% of the students contacted indicated they wanted to complete their degree and 75% said they would return to their original institution. 

Author’s note:  Your school’s registrar can provide this same information.


The University of Florida, expects the same number of students to register for the fall semester as had last year.

The 23-campus California State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Seattle all expect first-year class enrollment to be similar to last year’s enrollment.

What is the student-consumer telling admission deans?

This entry was posted in Colleges, Foreign Students, International Education, International students, Universities by Marguerite Dennis. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

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