The impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education

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

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *