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Home learning could be the new normal for international students

Transnational education will bloom as coronavirus keeps international students away, conference hears

Online and in-country teaching will become the “main type of normal” for higher education as institutions adapt to major shifts caused by the coronavirus, delegates at a virtual forum heard on 20 April.

Speaking in a webinar as part of Universities UK’s International Higher Education Forum Online series, Janet Ilieva, director and founder of the research consultancy Education Insight, said that transnational education—where a university provides education in a different country—would become “the main type of normal” for institutions as travel restrictions and a looming coronavirus recession mean international students are more likely to stay at home.

Elsewhere during the forum, Universities UK International director Vivienne Stern warned that the coronavirus would cause a “potential catastrophe” for international higher education that “might last for several years”, and urged universities to think about “how [we are] going to position ourselves” to stay ahead of competitor countries.

Ilieva said more countries were starting to recognise online and blended learning degrees, while top destinations for international students such as the UK could expect to see “a higher turnover” of students as learners opt to travel only for a year or a term. “Covid is accelerating trends which would have taken decades to happen,” she said.

But Ilieva warned that the UK had lost ground to its competitors since 2010, and while recent developments such as the reintroduction of the two-year post-study work visa were welcome, their effects would be dampened during a recession as students struggle to find work.

She explained an “immediate” and “quite steep” drop in international student numbers would mean universities rely more on local partners to recruit students, while marketing teams would need to focus on health and safety messaging for worried parents post-coronavirus.

Research Professional News is UUK’s media partner for this event; this news is produced independently in line with our editorial policy