Samira Rauner | Fri, 26 Jun 2020
The effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic are forcing many sectors to re-think their strategies as they face unprecedented challenges, among them the UK’s higher education sector.
One of the consequences is that UK universities have been warned to expect a significant decrease in the number of international students enrolling this year.
With close to half a million international students studying at UK universities and East Asian students accounting for more than 35% of them, institutions might be faced with a loss of up to £460m in income - from East Asian students alone.
According to The Guardian, a survey found that 29% of prospective students were considering “delaying or cancelling plans to study”, and that 46% of undergraduate applicants would rather “postpone the start of their studies until January 2021 than begin with online teaching in autumn”.
A report by the University and College Union (UCU) in April further warned that if large numbers of both domestic and international students choose to delay or cancel their plans to study, UK universities may face a £2.5bn hole in their funding.
If large numbers of both domestic and international students choose to delay or cancel their plans to study, UK universities may face a £2.5bn hole in their funding - UCU report
A University of Aberdeen spokesperson said that the University “[has] taken steps to mitigate against any potential loss of income brought about by the pandemic, including, but not limited to, freezing recruitment for all but essential posts; pausing all but essential capital and revenue project work and accessing the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”
Even though some British universities are expecting a 50% decrease in international students compared to last year, the University of Aberdeen spokesperson has said that the University “is continuing to see positive engagement with prospective students and currently applications from international students looking to join us in autumn 2020 are nearly 30% up on this time last year.”
In an effort to further attract international students, the University has hosted 47 virtual live events so far, including two postgraduate open days and one undergraduate medicine degree; launched the Aberdeen Global Scholarship providing £2000, £3000 or £5000 scholarships to international students; and expanded its range of postgraduate programmes that can begin in January.
To support students joining the University of Aberdeen this fall, the University spokesperson has stated that they “will have Virtual Orientations open from July and a new app to guide [the students] through the process of preparing for University.”
“Whether students join us on campus or online, everyone will have access to the usual services such as library, student support and the careers service and we have undertaken a huge amount of work to ensure this is possible.
“We will of course constantly keep abreast of government advice and where appropriate adapt our on-campus provision in line with the latest guidance.”