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article imageHow should the university sector adapt to the coronavirus era? Special

By Tim Sandle     Aug 20, 2020 in Lifestyle
Universities around the globe are heading into uncharted territory as the Fall 2020 semester approaches under the shadow of the pandemic. What policies should the education sector be adopting to cope with these unusual times?
Universities and colleges need to accelerate their plans for the 2020-2021 school year. This imperative comes amidst the uncertainty created by the coronavirus crisis, especially with the expectation of a second wave emerging. Looking into this issue is Sharon Butler, EVP of Global Education at Flywire (a provider of payment solutions for education institutions).
The COVID-19 pandemic is driving education administrators are being forced to restructure everything from student enrolment timetables and refund policies to international recruitment and student visa applications.
Based on input from institutions, industry associations and global student communities, Butler has laid out recommendations for universities to help manage some of these uncertainties and retain and drive student enrolment for the 2020-2021 academic year. The recommendations are designed to address best practice planning scenarios, student affordability, payment planning and international visas to help education stakeholders navigate the economic and operational obstacles posed by the crisis.
Butler's recommendations are:
The Need for Clearly Defined Policies
Here Butler recommends:
Craft clear policies that provide students and families the comfort and confidence they need to choose to enrol in universities now, with the intent to commence studies in the fall.
Account for temporary online learning curriculum options and requirements -- and its potential impact on students.
Consider deferral options.
Factor in the potential need for an efficient refund mechanism.
Student Affordability
On value for students, Butler says:
Payments plans are critical to affordability.
The disruption of COVID-19 may make it harder for students and families to afford previously accessible education.
Universities that can offer flexible payment plans will help their communities manage budgets while maintaining enrolment.
Visa Requirements
Universities are reliant upon oversees students in order to boost their coffers. In relation to this, Butler notes:
International students are the lifeblood of many U.S. colleges and universities. Not only do they provide academic and cultural enrichment, but they also contribute meaningfully to the U.S. economy—nearly $41 billion annually according to NAFSA.
For schools that count on international enrolment, the visa process is one of the most challenging areas of uncertainty – for both students and administrators.
Many students will need guidance on the how to obtain their visas.
Evaluate visa requirements on a country-by-country basis.
In addition to the above, it is important that universities work with the latest information from governments.
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