The impact of coronavirus on the sector of international education and language travel26.04.20
I have worked in the sector of international education for almost 25 years and one might think that this is just one of the storms that have affected the sector many times in its long history. This storm is different from others because it affects the sector on all fronts, starting with student behavior and their immediate economic opportunities and affecting the world for which we are preparing our students.
There will be winners and losers, but if we want to survive, instead of focusing on the negative, we must look for opportunities that the current crisis can provide.
Overcoming the crisis in the international education sector
In March and early April, the greatest attention of educational institutions was transferring students and teachers to remote work, ensuring the safety of school buildings and places of residence for international students. One of the biggest changes has been the massive move all classes online, with the platform market becoming one of the few sectors that continued to grow.
The introduction of quarantine in all countries has led to the fact that most agencies' attention was focused on those students who needed to return to their own countries or postponing the start of their programs until a later date, hoping that everything will be finished by summer. Furthermore, agencies have actively started promoting online language courses, so those interested in learning a language could continue their studies.
However, it is now becoming clear that the coronavirus pandemic will continue in summer, and agencies realize that they would need to cancel most summer programs, including school groups traveling.
Some agencies run campaigns telling clients not to cancel their programs, but to postpone them to a later date. Countries close borders and visas issuing, making it difficult to understand when this later date arrives. However, the absolute truth is that the pandemic has changed everything this time. The whole sector seems to have the same question: who knows when travel will be possible again?
Accepting a new reality
The world will never be the same again, and the current crisis will affect the sector for at least the next three academic years. This means that we need to review our strategies. It is difficult to say how, but industry leaders must act decisively and accept new situations, and not expect that eventually, everything would return to normal.
Many solutions are good so far, but they will not be sustainable in the long term.
In fact, for students, the decision to study abroad depends on the courses they will study, the brand, and the reputation of the institution. It also depends on the freedom to be yourself, the sense of community and participation in the everyday life of institution. What is happening outside the classroom walls is as important to the students as the knowledge they receive.
Therefore, an online transition is not a substitute for class study in the long-term, and students will continue to seek opportunities to study in other countries.
The crisis should not undermine the value of the international education sector, but rather strengthen it. The digital demon really came out of the box and it will be difficult to get it back. Accept it and make it work for industry, students and economy participants.
However, eventually, I am sure that we will all emerge stronger from the crisis. The desire to travel remains strong and reservations will return as soon as travel bans are lifted.