Coronavirus could affect college enrollment and college’s bottom line

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

A survey found that the ongoing coronavirus crisis has affected seventy-six percent of American colleges that recruit students from China. The survey was conducted by the Institute of International Education and it included 234 colleges and universities.

Insider Higher Ed noted that China is the “biggest source of international students” for American higher education institutions and that the coronavirus’s impact could negatively affect their foreign student recruitment efforts. The website also pointed out that many institutions rely on “Chinese student enrollments to help balance their budgets.”

IIEE’s research head told the media that about twenty percent of the survey respondents said they do not have current plans in place for recruitment alternatives, such as virtual webinars and similar online measures. Higher education institutions are aware that the coronavirus crisis will affect enrollment for the coming academic year between 2020-2021 and hope to travel to China once restrictions are lifted.

As of now, the U.S. State Department issued a level 4 travel advisory, which means that it forbids travel for U.S. citizens to China. It said the following in its advisory:

“Do not travel to China due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Travelers should be prepared for the possibility of travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Most commercial air carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.”

A level 4 travel advisory is the “do not travel” advisory level, which is the most serious travel advisory issued by the U.S. government. The other levels in escalating restrictions are exercising normal precautions (level 1), exercising increased caution (level 2), and reconsidering travel (level 3).

So far, only 0.4% of enrolled Chinese students were affected by travel restrictions (or a total of 831 students). Most had returned from winter holidays to college campuses by the time that the U.S. government issued travel restrictions. If students could not travel to the United States, the higher education institutions responded in various ways. Forty-six percent offered remote or independent study options, forty-one percent offered deferred enrollment or leaves of absence, thirty-eight percent offered online or distance education classes, nine percent issued refunds, and eight percent offered the option to study elsewhere.

Overall, ninety-four percent of respondents said that their spring study abroad programs were canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus.

When U.S. colleges and universities faced budget crunches with falling federal and state government aid or subsidies, these institutions looked to China to make up the budget deficits. Now, with the coronavirus shutting down international travel to China from the U.S., their budgets could see a significant negative impact for at least one academic year.