Coronavirus Crisis and HE
In the second school year after the coronavirus, there are still concerns about the consequences the pandemic had on Dutch education. Some higher education students suffer from mental health problems, and children in the upper classes of primary school and lower classes of high school are still trying to catch up on delays, according to a progress report from education ministers to parliament on Tuesday 28 November, reports NL Times.
China’s official research and development spending increased by more than 10% year-on-year in 2022 to more than CNY3.08 trillion (US$422 billion), according to figures released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics this week. Companies accounted for three-quarters of R&D spending.
Students struggled with online learning during the pandemic. This was not only because of practical issues and the suddenness of the transition from face-to-face classes, but also due to the knock-on impact of anxiety about COVID itself, which affected them and their teachers.
Student mobility across Europe has rebounded after COVID, but Brexit – described as one of the worst peacetime failures of public policy-making – has significantly reduced opportunities for students from the United Kingdom, the QS Higher Education Summit: Europe 2023 in Dublin was told this week.
We are at the tipping point of transformative change, which compels us to reassess our values and aspirations. While academic excellence and intellectual growth are undoubtedly important, nurturing compassion is equally crucial for the well-being and success of students and academics alike.
If the advances towards open access publishing brought by COVID are to be sustained once the pandemic has subsided, scientists themselves will need to have a greater say in defining the future of scientific publishing and in governing its infrastructure and processes.
Job cuts announced by two of New Zealand’s eight universities in the wake of falling domestic enrolments and the ongoing recovery of international student numbers in the wake of COVID have united vice-chancellors, staff and students in calls for a more sustainable funding model.
University faculty in Africa will have to adopt technological solutions that prohibit cheating, embrace teaching pedagogies that stretch beyond understanding to creativity, and enforce academic integrity policies to curb cheating in online assessment, says Faith Maina, a professor of curriculum and instruction at Texas Tech University in the United States.
While some big-name US universities have seen more applications from Chinese students this year, lesser known institutions are less popular than before COVID. US recruiters working in China attribute the decline to the pandemic-related border closures as well as shifts in US-China relations.
Since the resumption of in-person classes, international student numbers in South Korea have more than bounced back from the lows of the COVID-19 pandemic, with enrolments of overseas students reaching record highs. And the higher education sector is looking to attract even more.
While the road to post-pandemic recovery remains bumpy for international student recruitment in the United States, two interesting trends are emerging – a sector-wide jump in use of educational agencies and a general shift away from reliance on rankings towards focusing on how institutions equip students to be successful.
Research shows that helping students, particularly first years, to feel a sense of belonging in the university environment sets them up for learning, persistence, success and well-being over the course of their degree – to the benefit of both the students and the institution.
Despite ongoing geopolitical tensions, China is pushing for the resumption of student and academic exchanges with the West and other regions. However, despite official messaging, China’s return to normal after last year’s closed-door ‘Zero-COVID’ restrictions is likely to take a bit of time.
South Africa’s University of Pretoria has conferred an honorary doctorate on the first person from Africa to head the World Health Organization or WHO as director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in recognition of his work as a global health expert and scholar.
Most universities in East Africa struggled to uphold the integrity of examinations that were administered online during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a regional survey conducted by Education Sub-Saharan Africa, or ESSA, in collaboration with the Inter-University Council of East Africa, or IUCEA.
The new cutting-edge Biomedical Research Institute unveiled by Stellenbosch University near Cape Town, South Africa, shows that the African continent is perfectly willing and able to help, not just itself, but the rest of humanity as well, says the institution's vice dean of the faculty of medicine and health sciences.
The Japanese government’s latest plan to increase foreign students and expand the number of Japanese students studying abroad, as a landmark initiative to foster internationalisation in higher education, is seen by experts as a bounce back from the last two years of pandemic-related restrictions.
From finances to teaching and learning, COVID-19 affected different universities in different countries in different ways, with many acting quickly to adapt to the situation. By comparing their performances, we can understand what helps them to stay resilient and prepare better for future disruption.
A study has revealed that COVID-19 did not bring about a serious increase in mental health issues at two South African universities. The findings suggest that, in the face of ongoing adversity on South African university campuses in recent years, COVID-19 may be just one more stressor local students face.
Indian medical students who returned from abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic, war and other exigencies were in a tizzy following the decision of India’s Supreme Court on 29 March allowing them two attempts to complete the MBBS medical degree.
A great deal can be learned from community radio which challenges the dominant knowledge hierarchies by recognising local communities as the bearers of valuable community knowledge who can then become active producers of content rather than remaining passive consumers or receivers of knowledge.
A global study into the characteristics of celebrity or visible scientists across 16 countries during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that “visibility is related to scientists’ media skills and willingness to engage, as well as their ability to respond to criticism and cope with controversy”.
The decline in overall student enrolment in United States universities and colleges caused by COVID-19 has slowed, according to official national figures, but there is a worrying decrease in graduate numbers. And a demographic cliff, with its origins in the 2008 recession, lies ahead.
The trends identified by a study of collaboration between United States and Chinese scientists during the COVID-19 pandemic provide valuable information to understand and support US and Chinese scientists’ international collaborations so that they are well positioned to respond effectively during crisis situations.
China has suddenly reversed its temporary rules in place for over two years during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing online courses from foreign universities to be delivered to students within China, which is being justified in China as a crackdown on substandard online degree courses.
In the wake of China’s economic downturn and concerns over a decline in college-age student numbers, the education ministry, after years of unbridled expansion, has directed provinces to rein in plans to build new universities and is now pushing a ‘quality over quantity’ line.
While there is no blueprint for the implementation of digitally enhanced learning and teaching, which requires changes for the entire institution and can bear relatively high risks, institutional strategies and inter-institutional peer learning are key enablers, combined with engagement of staff and students.
Despite record numbers registering for China’s 2023 national postgraduate entrance exam, many people did not turn up for the first part of the exam held in late December 2022. The high level of no-shows appears to be, in part, due to confusion over COVID-19 restrictions.
A special index for assessing a country’s vulnerability to misinformation has been unveiled, drawing on data during the COVID-19 pandemic, including on trust in governments and science, which could have important implications for public support of climate change policies and the Sustainable Development Goals generally.
The number of students studying through UK transnational higher education rose by 12.7% from 2020 to 2021, with China taking over from Malaysia as the top host country for British transnational higher education and Vietnam showing the largest proportional increase in UK transnational students, a report shows.
Collaboration between two research centres, one in Japan and one in Zambia, is successfully contributing to efforts aimed at early detection of potential pandemics caused by zoonotic pathogens and has also led to significant technical support and human resource development among African researchers.
The return to ‘education as normal’ after COVID-19 should not stop higher education institutions in developing countries from being inventive because harnessing digital technologies can build education systems that are able to withstand unforeseen events and obstacles to progressive education and lifelong learning.
Small pockets of protest action were reported on campuses around China this week via social media sites in an indication that there is still simmering anger and frustration at the way in which university authorities are handling student grievances over COVID restrictions.
Chinese authorities locked down a major university in Beijing on Wednesday 16 November after finding one COVID-19 case as they stick to a ‘zero-COVID’ approach despite growing public discontent, writes Ken Moritsugu for AP News.
The metaverse is here to stay and we cannot let learners disappear in it. By making social and emotional learning central in the metaverse, there is an opportunity to bridge the virtuality-reality divide and foster a sense of community to drive real change.
There is “profound intellectual concern that this decolonial project, insofar as it valorises indigenous knowledges, is anti-universal – and is, thus, inimical to the idea of the university”. As much as indigenous knowledge should be promoted, “this should not come at the expense of the university and the kind of knowledge that is supposed to be produced in a university context”, says Associate Professor of Higher Education Patrício Langa.
Africa’s main challenge in the 21st century is the capacity to develop a higher education sector of continental relevance within a globally competitive world, against a backdrop of inadequate funding, low research output and visibility, as well as the lack of harmonisation within higher education systems, says Professor Bakri Osman Saeed, the president of the Association of African Universities.
Institutions of higher education have a wealth of student data they can use to support students through their individual higher education journey by offering greater flexibility in their study patterns and being more proactive in identifying difficulties students may have along the way.
When it comes to international education, Chinese mobility has for decades played a vital role in post-secondary institutions worldwide and although the number of students may wax and wane, Chinese students are likely to seek opportunities in the West for generations to come.
A leading private university in Japan is determined to capitalise on lessons learnt from COVID-19 by introducing a programme that will accelerate student mobility between its local and international campuses, offer more personalised programmes to students, reduce class sizes and expand participation in extra-curricular activities.
A new report analysing internationalisation in American universities before and after COVID shows that while the pandemic caused a predictable decline in international student numbers, global learning – in the form of virtual internship programmes and internationalisation of the curriculum – actually expanded.
Nearly 20,000 students from across the United Kingdom are launching legal action against universities after being charged full fees during COVID lockdowns and teaching strikes, writes Lydia Chantler-Hicks for the Evening Standard.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the dangers of healthcare nationalism, which limits us in improving the health of all people and prevents us from acting together as a global medical community committed to working towards Sustainable Development Goal 3 on good health and well-being.
COVID and universities’ corporate response to it caused widespread and ongoing disruption. Yet, arguably, its greatest disruptive influence has been to exacerbate, and thus force a reckoning with, the deep-seated problems that have for some time caused academics to question their future.
Problem-orientated project learning can nurture critical thinkers who are able to work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary way to identify and tackle the kind of real-life problems they will face after graduation, delegates at the 2022 International Association of Universities or IAU conference heard.
The world’s obvious interconnectedness, starkly highlighted by COVID-19 and climate change, is necessary to secure the future of our planet and species – and that includes the equitable sharing of intellectual knowhow and resources, an international conference of university leaders has heard.
An increase of 8% in the number of international students coming to Germany this year means the country ranks fourth in the world, with India – currently providing 34,000 students – set to overtake China in the future as the most important country of origin.
Surveys show that Australia has bounced back after COVID to become the second most popular higher education study destination after Canada, but it’s no time for complacency. Speakers at a recent international education conference stressed the importance of meeting the changing needs of prospective students.
Several specific strategies have been formulated aimed at attracting international students – seen as indispensable to drive future social development – back to Japan. But the country faces several challenges in achieving its goals, one of which is the impact of the region’s changing geopolitics.
Applications from mainland China students to universities in Hong Kong have reached record highs as unemployment pressures and strict COVID lockdown measures within China, as well as geopolitical tensions with the West, have combined to present Hong Kong as an attractive study destination.
COVID-19 has forced universities to re-evaluate their telos – their value and purpose – undergirding their teaching and research functions, business models, governance and institutional cultures, and external engagements. It comes at a time of fierce epistemological and ontological contestation, writes Paul Zeleza, former vice-chancellor of the United States International University Africa.
Experts warn of tough years ahead for universities in the United Kingdom as they grapple with the competing challenges of rising demand, the repercussions of COVID-19 disruption and a fall in the real value of home tuition fees, coupled with a decline in European Union student numbers since Brexit.
Universities in Beijing and beyond have cut short an upcoming week-long public holiday and are imposing new COVID-like travel restrictions on staff and students ahead of the annual Communist Party congress during which China’s president is expected to receive a third term.
All eight of the country’s universities face the prospect of disruptions if Tertiary Education Union members vote to go ahead with strike action following the rejection of demands for an 8% pay increase – despite institutions reporting financial surpluses last year.
Post-pandemic forever universities are resilient and embrace change. And their leaders have prepared for the inevitability of future disruptions by doing the hard work of changing the way their schools are governed, how information is communicated and who is involved in making decisions.
The rapid expansion of genomics surveillance has enabled a large consortium of African scientists and public health institutions to map how the SARS-CoV-2 variants reached and spread across the continent in real time during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in the journal Science.
A decline in ‘traditional’ domestic students and fewer international students reflect a realignment of students’ priorities and are part of the ‘forever’ legacy of COVID-19 that higher education leaders in the United States need to take into account when planning for the future.
At a conference on digital universities that opened in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday 12 September, speakers explored topics like what universities will look like in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the digital change it accelerated in higher education, and how ready universities in the Middle East and North Africa are for a full transition to digital learning, writes Samar Kadi for Al-Fanar Media.
Universities cannot pursue internationalisation for internationalisation’s sake but must consider it in relation to global geopolitical trends to be responsive to challenges. At the International Education Association of South Africa’s recent conference, it was also highlighted that internationalisation needs to be more equitable, inclusive and transformative.
A recent study uncovers the high levels of hopelessness and anxiety being experienced by international students who left their homes over two years ago to enrol in Chinese universities – many on scholarships – but who remain stranded outside China owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an ambitious closing plenary of the 24th annual International Education Association of South Africa conference entitled ‘Around the globe in 60 minutes’, leaders from eight member associations of the Network of International Education Associations reflected on how the current global, regional and national geopolitical and economic contexts were impacting on the internationalisation of higher education.
As temperatures continue to rise, both literally and between nations, international research engagement – a precondition for finding and implementing solutions to global problems – risks becoming more regionalised and factionalised. Universities and the research community need to clarify what the rules for engagement should be.
Irish universities are demanding a return to the traditional spread of grades in the Leaving Certificate, after a third year of grade inflation. This year marks were raised to bring them in line with last year when exams were cancelled and calculated grades used.
The COVID-19-related lockdowns affecting major Chinese cities present ongoing hurdles not only for international students hoping to return to China, but also for those Chinese students planning to study overseas in the coming weeks as they cannot leave their cities to complete the necessary procedures.
Countries in Africa need to rethink the design of their technical and vocational education and training, or TVET, so that it is relevant to the skills and knowledge that are in demand in their respective nations. Teaching and learning must also focus on the local environment and locally available materials.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s expansion of online learning has created higher education opportunities to teach Africa’s prison inmates, even if administrators of correctional facilities have been reluctant to take advantage of these options. The idea that prison can deliver reform and punishment is not universally accepted across the continent.
In the end, it will be an ordinary start to the new university year in Algeria, on 17 September. After the restrictions due to COVID-19 and some upheavals, distance education, the group rotational system and the safety measures against the pandemic have come to an end.
Universities across Canada are taking divergent approaches to COVID-19 mandates, as students and faculty return to classrooms in the third academic year to begin during the pandemic, writes Joy Spearchief-Morris for The Globe and Mail.
The history of Zhejiang University, one of China’s oldest universities and among the fastest growing globally, suggests that through constant adaptation and transformation, and by adopting a ‘global problem-solving mindset’ and collaborating internationally, universities have a better chance of becoming powerhouses for social progress.
In addition to disrupting higher education for more than two years, COVID-19 will be linked to some permanent or ‘forever’ changes in the sector. These include an increasingly consumerist approach to education in some countries and greater concerns about the mental and emotional health of students.
In the wake of COVID-19 which has blurred boundaries in curricular offerings and rendered location constraints virtually meaningless, international branch campuses including the Incheon Global Campus need to think entirely out of the box if they are to locate the opportunities in disruption.
Australia’s Monash University has launched a first-of-its-kind course on behavioural change for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. It draws on the experience during the COVID-19 pandemic where behavioural changes prompted by scientific knowledge helped significantly to reduce the spread of the virus.
Moments of leadership transition reveal much about the governance systems and processes in an organisation. The more robust the institutional arrangements are, the more seamless the transition. Since leadership is custodial and not permanent, effective transitions also entail learning from those you are replacing and sharing insights when you are replaced.
In what is claimed to be the first “real world field study” of inoculation theory on a social media platform, United Kingdom psychologists, cooperating with Google experts, found that a single viewing of a pre-bunking video clip is effective in raising awareness of misinformation.
It is hoped that a future regional centre of excellence in science advice and diplomacy in Southeast Asia will give expression to a growing recognition of the need for science advice in policy-making in the region and an appreciation of its value in promoting regional prosperity.
Virtual learning is no longer just a short-term bridge to sustain a commitment to global education during a pandemic. Having entered the mainstream, it now offers a real opportunity to ensure the achievement of inclusive and equitable quality education at a global level.
Despite the expansion of international branch campuses and online learning options which make it possible to study at home, pursuing a degree in a foreign country is an irresistible dream for many. We share some of the reasons we left our comfort zone.
At a time when the international student market is characterised by ongoing turbulence, and competition in the sector is immense, universities that address the overall well-being of international students, be it economic, emotional, psychological or social, are likely to stand out.
Figures collected as part of the New Zealand government’s export education levy show institutions received NZ$250 million (US$153 million) less from foreign students’ fees in 2020 than they did in 2019, and NZ$610 million less in 2021. This year’s fees would be even lower because there were fewer students, writes John Gerritsen for Radio New Zealand.
Despite their key role in helping academic researchers to get their message across during the COVID-19 pandemic, many science press officers feel undervalued and see themselves as playing ‘second fiddle’ to their marketing colleagues, a new report into university media relations has found.
The governments of selected countries in Africa have been requested to provide information to Chinese authorities about international students who are enrolled in Chinese universities, signalling that China is finally prepared to welcome back students who left following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 and have been unable to return.
While China remains closed to tourists, international students – shut out for over two years as a result of COVID-19 border restrictions – look set to return after a number of Chinese embassies announced what authorities call a ‘new visa policy’, applicable to 57 countries.
A recent study at Boston University in the United States shows how a combination of vaccination and risk mitigation measures, including mandatory indoor masking, regular surveillance testing and enhanced air filtration, were highly effective at keeping classroom transmission of COVID-19 at the university to negligible levels.
As Chinese universities count down to the start of the fall semester, universities in many places across the country have announced that they will delay the return of staff and students and postpone enrolment for the class of 2022 due to the epidemic and high temperatures, reports Global Times.
There is no end in sight to the refugee crisis, nor to the income inequality that persistently separates some social classes and populations from employment opportunities and prosperity. While the challenges can appear overwhelming, edtech holds promise in continuing to offer innovative solutions.
Edtech in higher education careers services promises to enhance, rather than replace, the work of career development practitioners, but critically informed conversations are still needed to assuage concerns about digital tools on the part of career practitioners, other university staff, employers and students.