International recruitment & study abroad impacts of COVID 19

March 9, 2020
  • Change Management
  • Competencies
  • International
  • International Admissions and Credential Evaluation
  • Problem-Solving
  • natural disaster
illustration of crowd of people wearing face masks

In response to the rapidly evolving events surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and out of concern for the health and safety of students and their communities, campuses across the country are reacting to the spread of the novel coronavirus with suspension of staff travel, and the cancellation of study abroad programs in China, Italy, and more. 

Chinese student mobility

The Coronavirus has cast a shadow on institutional recruitment by complicating efforts for students to request transcripts and letters from institutions in China and institutional limits on recruitment travel. The most serious disruptions include quarantines and restrictions of movement within China as well as outright entry bans on travelers from China into countries around the world, including the United States of America and Australia, two of the largest markets for Chinese students studying abroad, and New Zealand, which also depends heavily on Chinese international students. Meanwhile, international recruiters are facing down recruiting for Fall 2020 amid economic uncertainty for students, partner universities operating online only, and bans on recruitment travel in key regions like China and South Korea. 

For more information: watch this recent AACRAO webinar hosted by SUNRISE to explore the implications for admissions and records offices engaged with recruitment efforts in China, current information on the situation on the ground, including school closures, testing cancellations, and other disruptors that have implications for Chinese student mobility. And visit this SUNRISE article for an in-depth review of the China situation.

IIE survey results

At the beginning of the crisis, the main concerns were students returning from overseas and travel related to China. With the help of AACRAO and other higher education organizations, the Institute for International Education (IIE) surveyed more than 230 U.S. higher education institutions, including 19 of the top 20 hosts of international students from China and 17 of the top 20 institutions sending study abroad students to China. 

Some of the topline findings were:

  • 37% of institutions reported that some students were unable to come or return to the U.S. campus from China because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions. 831 students were affected, less than 0.4% of the total Chinese student populations at these institutions. As most institutions noted, most of their Chinese students were already on campus at the time of the outbreak.

  • 76% of institutions reported that outreach or recruiting events in China had been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This includes tests like IELTS and TOEFL, recruitment events like college fairs, and other engagements. 20% of institutions noted that they did not have any alternative for these outreach/recruitment disruptions.

  • 48% of respondents reported that their institutions had students scheduled to go on study abroad programs in China in the spring 2020 semester. Of those, 94% percent had postponed or cancelled those programs, with 76% cancelled outright or postponed indefinitely. 48% of institutions with cancelled programs were able to relocate their students to over 30 other countries, listed in the brief.

The full report is available on the IIE website. While this survey focused on the effects of the outbreak in China, IIE plans future surveys that will address more recent developments and spread of the disease in other countries. AACRAO will share both the survey and the results as they are available.

Learn more about AACRAO's response to COVID-19.