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International students and COVID-19

It is evident that COVID-19 is impacting a lot of things in people’s daily lives but more so for the students that have traveled thousands of miles to be here. With the disease keeping them in the US, international students face uncertainty. 

Students from countries like China or Hong Kong are finding it difficult to return to their home countries for the break. The weight of worry for them is doubled when it consists of both the flights to their home countries and the one back to the US for the Spring quarter. On top of that, due to the unpredictability and precariousness of the virus, it is not certain when they would be able to return home. 

Furthermore, not only students living in the US but also students visiting their home countries have been struggling to travel back to the US. The Institute of International Education (IIE) recently released a survey that showed the impact travel restrictions regarding the crisis have had on the mobility of international students and international student recruitment for the upcoming quarters or semesters. 37 percent of institutions represented in the survey reported that some students were unable to come or return to their US campus from China. These same institutions hosted 47 percent of students from China in the US. Knowing this, it is easy to say that the travel restrictions would reduce the number of students these institutions would otherwise recruit for the following quarters or semesters. 

COVID-19 has not only been affecting international students currently living in the United States but also those who are planning to live and study here next quarter. From an enrollment management perspective, the uncertainty puts profit calculations into serious question. Due to the outbreak, many students are either deferring their entry to next year or deciding to study in a different country altogether. With such a large percentage of students reconsidering their study plans until the health crisis has gone away, colleges and universities need to be flexible now more than ever. 

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