Reasons for optimism about student housing demand despite a fall in bookings during the lockdown

“Unilodgers is seeing some interesting student research patterns and booking behaviours during the COVID-19 lockdown”

“University leaders and housing operators and managers, both on- and off-campus, are now rightly focussed on today and making sure their students and staff are safe, but what does the future post-pandemic hold?” asks Vincenzo Raimo & JoAnn Orrell of Unilodgers.

There is already very significant speculation about falls in university enrolments in the UK, USA and elsewhere in 2020/21, not only from international students unable to complete prerequisite admission requirements in time for the start of the new academic year but also from potential domestic students delaying their studies rather than compromise their student experience.

Falls in university enrolments would obviously impact housing providers both short as well as potentially longer-term with smaller cohorts working their way through the system.

The evidence, however, suggests a more nuanced picture and reason to be more optimistic for student housing demand than some are perhaps suggesting.  First, the longer-term projections for growing worldwide demand for higher education and international mobility are unchanged.

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COVID-19 highlights need for recruitment automation

“Many HEIs were already struggling with fluctuating international enrolments due to unpredictable political and economic conditions”

UK universities face significant financial losses in international tuition fees as Covid-19 decimates prospective enrolments. However, automating recruitment processes mitigate the potential for economic ruin says Jeffrey Williams, co-founder at Enroly.com.

As global leaders in higher education, UK universities are heavily reliant on international tuition revenue, with the most important recruitment markets for the UK are China (120,385); India (26,685); the United States (20,120); Hong Kong (16,135), and Malaysia (13,835).

Indeed international students make up 20% of the UK’s undergraduate student body and a staggering 35% of all postgraduates, meaning there are close to half-a-million international students in the country at any given time.

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Lessons from Katrina: conducting ‘learning as usual’ in unusual times

“Instead of succumbing to panic and fear, let us instead ask how we can continue to help each other in this time of need”

“Amid the global pandemic of COVID-19, I am reminded of my time in New Orleans in 2005 experiencing Hurricane Katrina,” writes Isaac Garcia-Sitton, director of International Education & English Language Institute (YUELI) at York University’s School of Continuing Studies in Toronto.

At the time, I was a young diplomat, working in the Panamanian Consulate, thrust into one of the most formative personal and professional experiences I had ever faced.

I led efforts in coordination with the US State Department, FEMA, State Police, and Red Cross for search, rescue and relocation of dozens of Panamanians families affected. It is difficult to overstate the toll that the months-long shut-down and city evacuations took on the displaced and unhoused people who lived through Katrina. However, what came out of that severe strife was an unshakable belief in the resilience of communities – their ability to stay connected, and their relentless commitment to helping one another.

Today, New Orleans has been rebuilt, its residents have reestablished their lives, and most traces of the wreckage and debris have now disappeared, leaving behind memories of courage, strength and unity.

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This too shall pass – reflections on international education crises

“At some point during each crisis, we worry about the long-term impact on international education”

I remember the feeling, writes Kerry Geffert, product evangelist for Terra Dotta. Restless, hard to focus, antsy, anxious, neither depressed nor positive. It was right after 9/11. Our world had turned upside down and, when we got past the immediate personal implications, those of us in international education wondered what the future held for the work that was near and dear to our hearts.

At that time I was also Conference Chair for the 2002 NAFSA Annual Conference. When we held our first meeting of the planning committee following 9/11, I started by admitting that I had had trouble focusing on our tasks. There was an immediate collective sigh of relief. Turns out I was not alone.

Two lessons from that experience: We are not alone in our feelings of uncertainty. And our professional/industry peers and colleagues are an important part of self-care and mutual support.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its spread, international educators are in month three of the crisis. First, dealing with the impacts in China, then fear and impacts as the virus spread abroad and now, here at home.

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Standing #ApartTogether in times of crisis

“Keeping our communities safe, and focused on moving forward with hope and creativity, is our path through and out of our collective current reality”

It is vitally important to refocus on the importance of community and leadership, writes Tina Bax, Founder of CultureWorks in Canada.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer has tweeted her hope that we might stand #ApartTogether in this.  There’s arguably never been a more important time to be together.  To expand the concept of community that we continually build in our classrooms, to the rest of the world.

In the spirit of humility and service then, here are three communities to consider when we’re trying to take such great care in the coming weeks and months, not just of ourselves but of our world.

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Supporting international students in HE during COVID-19

“As we enter a new normal, we must ensure that no student is left behind”

Covid-19 has thrust the Higher Education sector into the realities of ‘Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity’ (VUCA)  writes senior international lead at the University of Sussex, Tosin Adebisi. As a result, many universities are responding quickly, creatively and moving in-person teaching to online platforms.

I commend universities for developing robust solutions; however, as we develop these learning platforms, how are we supporting international students, especially those unable to fly back to their homes and families? How well are we creating a level learning field that promotes accessibility, participation and inclusion?

In this opinion piece, I argue that we can do more to support international students. I also present suggestions to help universities develop human-centred solutions for this group.

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Migrating digital natives to home-learning in the wake of school closures

“The human interaction aspect of e-learning is crucial for student success and wellbeing – and for teachers too”

This latest blog is by Daniel Jones, Chief Education Officer of Globeducate, one of the world’s leading international school groups that has seen schools in all markets migrate to temporary home-schooling due to Covid-19 in less than a month.

Having anticipated possible school closures early in the new year our leadership team began planning a global strategy for online learning by the start of February. When the news of school closures in Italy broke, ICS Milan, Rome International School and Southlands International School were ready to launch their virtual learning programmes for students aged 3 to 18.

What has been asked of students and teachers all over the world has been immense – students have had to adapt to learning at home, away from the routine of school and the familiarity of their friends and teachers, and teachers have been engaging students in an entirely new environment.

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‘Honesty’ the key component for successful boarding school placements

“Trying to shoehorn a child into an unsuitable environment can be disastrous for both the child, family and the school itself”

When considering an overseas boarding school education, there are so many factors for parents to consider, writes Pat Moores of UK Education Guide. Meanwhile, schools and agents bombard families with information that may or may not be relevant to them.

We asked guardians and schools if they were only allowed to provide just one piece of advice to parents to help them make the best decision for their children, what would it be?

Interestingly, the answers received almost all followed a similar theme and we highlight three responses below:

Julia Evans, Director at Cambridge Guardian Angels, argues that the most important thing is to ask parents and agents to be honest about the information they provide schools & guardians.

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The magnitude of the crisis among international students

“Not many international students are equipped to advocate for themselves when a crisis arises”

This week’s guest blog is by Ruby Cheng, director of the International Enrollment Program (Asian Pacific Region) at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

I’m writing this article as an international educator, a guardian of a college international student, and an advocate who wants to voice up the concerns for the vulnerable and underrepresented group, international students, during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

When the COVID-19 became imminent in China in early February, I saw a great effort exerted by U.S. institutions, trying to accommodate Chinese applicants. Many international admissions offices offered opportunities for applicants to delay the transcript submission due to the closure of schools and universities in China.

In response to the closure of the testing centres for TOFEL, IELTS and GRE/GMAT, many admissions offices provided flexible policies including online interviews and Duolingo test, which allows students to take the English proficiency test at their homes. Those strategies made Chinese applicants and their families feel welcomed, despite the virus chaos they are experiencing in China.

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The role of think tanks in education

“Education is an important and lasting way in which university-affiliated think tanks can impact the world”

By connecting the worlds of the practitioner and the scholar, says Aaron McKeil of  LSE IDEAS, think tanks – university-affiliated think tanks especially – act as conduits between the two.

They strive to convey concepts and ideas from academia to practice and to bring experience and insider knowledge from practice to academia. Research and working groups are some of the most common mediums for this activity, but education has an important function and role too.

Think tanks, especially university-affiliated think tanks, can provide education by conveying academic knowledge to practitioners, at various levels. They can also provide education by connecting students to the distinct type of expertise that professional practitioners can provide.
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