The world is currently at a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses have temporarily shut doors to the public, work is remote, school is online, and everyone is practicing social distancing. Every company, educational institute, and organization has taken a hit from the COVID-19 crisis.
This pandemic has put students seeking higher education abroad in a state of anxiety and uncertainty about the future. Educational institutions across the globe have experienced a massive impact from the virus. Universities have suspended classes on campus and/or shifted to online studies, so students don’t miss out on their education.
Educational conferences, orientation week, and university fairs were all canceled to abide by the safety measures approved by the World Health Organization. However, after extensive research and deliberation, governments worldwide are cautiously lowering restrictions and steadily reopening the economy. This means that universities will eventually welcome back students on campus to pursue their desired studies.
International studies post-COVID
Educational institutes around the world will need to implement new policies and regulations to allow for social distancing for some time to come. This will definitely impact the normal university experience for students and will require them to manage their social circles inside and outside of classes.
The usual spaces where students study and hang out, such as libraries, on-campus networking areas, recreational rooms, and gyms, etc. will also need some guidelines to be able to accommodate a safe number of students. The sudden shift to online classes due to the pandemic was new and alarming, but it was effective as many students were able to graduate and complete their education based on their marks in assignments and projects.
Academic leaders and researchers are working diligently towards advancing online education techniques to enhance the student-instructor experience. Since the current delivery of online classes is at the most basic stage, professional instructors are designing platforms and learning materials that can improve the learning experience and boost student productivity. This includes better lecturer training facilities and a more results-driven approach to help instructors track their students’ performance. There is also a move towards offering a more personalized online-learning experience, so teachers are able to cater to the learning capabilities of each student.
In addition, teachers are looking for better assessment tools that help them recognize any common problems for their students.
One thing is certain, ‘pre-pandemic’ university life will not be returning any time soon. Students and faculty members will need to mentally prepare themselves for the new normal and adapt to new modes of learning.
Academic experts and researchers are collaborating with universities and schools to implement modified academic standards that can accommodate students who missed out on their spring semester. The pandemic has created an opportunity for people to recognize that they live in a border-less world that thrives on universal collaboration.
More attention required to student demands
As the world navigates through these major shifts, students with ambitions and hopes to study abroad are second-guessing the probability of being able to realize those dreams. They’re continually in contact with higher education institutes’ virtual administration desks and reaching out to higher authorities to figure out the next best move for their careers.
The pressure is real, and the COVID-19 crisis is pushing institutes to develop new methods of learning that help them reach students any time anywhere in the world. Prospective international students will still need to deal with the lack of mobility on-campus as well as off-campus.
Moreover, students’ expectations from universities regarding the online learning experience require a much higher level of personalization for their programs. Adult learners are seeking more specialized courses that improve their knowledge in specific areas – such as digital marketing, data analysis – while others prefer more generic programs.
There’s also a real need for clear communication between instructors and students to help institutes understand the attitudes and preferences of students.
What will the future bring?
Due to the pandemic, it’s become necessary for educational institutes and universities worldwide to continue to develop, and offer, online learning. Learning materials can vary from live sessions and video demonstrations to power-point slides, eBooks, guides, etc. Visiting faculty may deliver their respective courses online to students at home, especially since international student mobility is restricted.
Higher education facilities have shown true dedication in adapting to the current norm to help students continue with their education. However, these quick fixes are not enough to get them through the storm. As going back to studies ‘on campus’ in the fall is uncertain, and looking increasingly unlikely, there is still more work and research needed to offer quality online learning.
Study from home
While travel restrictions are in place and concerns of a ‘second wave’ are prevalent, some students may opt to study in their own country rather than going abroad for higher education. To cater to these demands, a rising number of colleges are gearing up to provide study-from-home experiences that are effective, and meaningful. Universities and colleges are taking this time to prove to society that they can be resilient and effective in delivering knowledge to the world online.
Some institutes are offering free short courses for learners worldwide to enhance their individual skillsets and help them dip into a pool of information. This can help students to open their minds to new perspectives and prepare them for the real world post-pandemic.
In a nutshell …
In today’s world, education has had to be reinvented to remove traditional barriers and create a seamless communication channel between students and institutes. While this presents challenges, and a lot of extra effort, if done right, it can teach the world to value interconnectedness. Each institution can tailormake their approach according to their respective missions and develop effective methods to aid students at different levels of study. At the moment universities are urging students to enroll for online classes but, at some stage in the future, students will be welcomed back to campuses around the world.
Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Dynamologic Solutions, A software house in Pakistan.