UK universities could seek to introduce cheaper and more flexible models
for overseas students to further their overseas employment in the Covid economy.
Janet Ilieva, founder of Education Insight and a global student flow specialist, said that the Covid-19 epidemic itself would “reduce demand” for international
research by “a year,” but the economic downturn “would have a long-term impact on student demand, particularly in terms of access to international research.”
He also added that the “the only way” institutions can deal
with this issue is to “fix the price” while maintaining quality.
“What we have seen happen is that it is possible to use flexible delivery methods and this works with international partners where UK degrees may be sent in different ways,” he said during a webinar organised by Times Higher Education in collaboration with the AECC International Education Advisors
“Perhaps undergraduate degrees will take place in two years, when the first year takes place elsewhere. There are flexible degree models that can be distributed to meet the international standard of affordability.”
Erik Lithander, Vice-Chancellor (Global Participation) at the University of Bristol, added that the UK higher education sector was “somehow out of jail last year” and “a further decline in employment that we had expected to happen”
However, he warned that some of the factors that contributed to better
performance than expected this academic year could not be repeated next year.
“In this last round, Australia and New Zealand were largely closed to business. With some applicants, the US was particularly unpopular. It’s not going to be repeated from September on; that could change a lot. And that’s going to change the competitive landscape,” he said.
Dr. Lithander added that in the next academic year, students would also be more interested in the standard of their education and university experience.
“The students were determined to impress us with their patience by providing us online. It was awesome that we could do it, I’m not sure that we all do it on a global level, and it will be good to see the level at which we can persuade students, who would have considerable mental insecurity about what’s going on in the next cycle, to keep developing this integrated commitment, because I think that’s the key to the next cycle.”
David Pilsbury, Vice-Chancellor (International Development) at Coventry University, said there was “an indication that the sector is likely to be volatile in September this year, with plans to reduce foreign jobs by 30%.
“We must be careful not to assume that the coming generation is going to make decisions like the previous generation of Covid… we really see signs that the conduct of the generation that makes decisions in this epidemic is different.