Tag: COVID-19

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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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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Coronavirus: separated families need greater focus

“Families are bearing the brunt of this disruption on both a psychological and practical level, and more must be done to meet their needs”

As the Coronavirus crisis widens geographically, the immediate focus for the boarding school sector is to provide up to date health advice to help keep schools virus-free. However, as Pat Moores of UK Education Guide writes, alongside this issue there is a massive human story. 

As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, young people are being separated from their families unexpectedly, uncertain when the situation will improve and concerned about their own welfare and the welfare of their families.

We have heard of one Chinese pupil who has donated £750 of her own money to help Wuhan residents, as many of her friends live in the Hubei region and she is very worried about them.

So what about enhanced pastoral care provision during this crisis?

As Caroline Nixon, General Secretary of the British Association of Independent Schools with International Students (BAISIS) says, “anything a school can do to reassure the child and to put into place arrangements that support them emotionally as well as physically is welcome; the most obvious being keeping the school open so that children without good guardians have somewhere familiar to stay.”

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