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.