Coronavirus has taken its toll on nearly every aspect of society. It has driven unemployment rates up, shrunk the economy, and forced many businesses to close. But the ramifications of the novel virus do not stop there; higher education is now experiencing the effects of the virus. There are a few key factors to keep in mind when analyzing the implications of COVID-19 on University and College life.
Firstly, there is the matter of student enrollment, specifically that of foreign exchange students. Since 1995, the premium on higher education has made it greatly desirable to foreigners. Anglo-American universities oversaw a 22% increase in enrollment from emerging world students. This trend reflects the rise in exchange students wanting to improve their lives through higher education. Though coronavirus is largely putting a halt on exchange programs as efforts to stop the spread are being implemented.
Another consequence of coronavirus is the recession it has generated. This is relevant as during recessions people often turn to higher education to avoid abysmal job markets. However, presently universities must keep their enrollment rates low. As such, they are losing out on considerable profits. That compounded with the loss of foreign students will force colleges to become even more reliant upon the government.
Another interesting facet of higher education which is being revealed by coronavirus is the growing realization that higher education is becoming less popular. In fact, some studies suggest that 1/5th of graduates would have been better off had they not chosen to attend university. Moreover, sentiments surrounding higher education are souring as 59% of republicans and 18% of democrats have a negative view on the institution. The negative outlook on college reflect the growing trend of skepticism surrounding higher education.
Finally, there is the difficult matter of maintaining safety on campus for schools that chose to reopen. It is imperative that universities are hypervigilant, closely monitor symptoms, frequently test for symptoms, and hold staff and students accountable. This will prove to be a difficult task, but it is beyond necessary. Only time can tell if the universities that chose to reopen made the correct decision.
In summation, coronavirus has engendered substantive changes to the institution of higher education. The presence of foreign exchange students will decrease profits, schools will become more reliant on the government, and it is likely that individuals will start to perceive education as being less necessary. For students returning to campus, they will be stuck in a precarious situation.