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International students and the impact of COVID-19

Where might international student mobility be two years or so from now? This brief review focuses specifically on international students and seeks to explore beyond the immediate towards what a post-COVID world might look like (there will be one!)

Dr Neil Kemp OBE*


The COVID shock has been immediate and profound, reaching into all aspects of our life, far beyond health, welfare and financial concerns. Similar to that for people, whilst there are generalised effects, the impact on organisations has reflected their individual characteristics. For example, universities everywhere have moved fast, launching many innovative approaches to support both learning and welfare needs of their students. One major initiative has seen the migration of materials for online delivery, allowing students to complete current programmes and, if problems persist, for next semester students to commence.

Creative responses will remain essential, given that many countries remain in crisis as the global health emergency, morphs into an economic one. What is generally agreed is that recession is inevitable, unemployment will increase, and international trade and mobility of peoples will be greatly reduced. By how much and for how long will be determined not just by economics but also by sentiment, the alternatives available and the likelihood of the occasional irrational decision. Various recovery scenarios are put forward for national economies - attenuated V, flattish U, slanting L or a wonky W, but as yet no consensus exists. Even a sharp V-shaped bounce-back will result in lower international student enrolments well beyond 2021. 

Half of the world’s victims of slavery live in the Commonwealth: What can be done about it?

Speech delivered by Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, at the Annual Commonwealth Day Westminster Seminar 

Scale of the issue and role of the Commonwealth

Modern slavery and human trafficking is a global challenge affecting every country in the world. According to the Global Slavery Index, there were an estimated 40.3 million people living in modern slavery on any given day in 2016.  The report also identifies a series of interrelated factors which create vulnerability and opportunity for slavery – governance issues, lack of basic needs, conflict, inequality and I will add climate change.

Vulnerability is then exploited by those motivated by greed or economic opportunism.  It is estimated that human trafficking is a business worth $150 billion annually.


Half of the world’s victims of slavery live in the Commonwealth:
What can be done about it?

Date: 9 March 2020 | Time: 10:30 to 12:30 | Venue: Committee Room G, Palace of Westminster

Host: The Rt Hon Baroness Prashar of Runnymede CBE, CEC Parliamentary Patron

While a third of the world’s population are Commonwealth citizens, according to the Global Slavery Index a staggering 55% of those currently enslaved reside in Commonwealth countries. This means that the Commonwealth is in a unique position to help significantly reduce slavery in the world.

As the statistics show, no country is exempt from the risks and incidence of modern slavery. Yet, it thrives in countries where governments fail to protect children, women and men from discrimination, exploitation and abuse, and allow businesses – however unscrupulous – to operate with impunity. All countries are bound by international law to make forced and child labour illegal.