Looking Ahead: The Future of Study Abroad
Covid-19 has ravaged the world as we knew it. The situation has brought about big changes; possibly seismic changes. Will the pandemic radically alter the course of international education? Will the changes be short-term or long-term? What will higher education abroad look like when the current public health crisis is over? Unfortunately, so far there are only questions and very few answers. The fact is, we are still in the throes of the pandemic. Health officials continue to gather new information about the health crisis. Researchers frantically search for a vaccine and a cure. So, the honest answer to all these questions is: no one knows. Let’s start with what we do know.
THE SAFETY OF OUR STUDENTS IS OUR FIRST PRIORITY
Our commitment has always been and continues to be the health and safety of our students. Decisions about program cancellations and travel restrictions will always be guided by health and safety, whether dealing with a natural disaster or a public health pandemic. That is the first consideration when evaluating programs.
THE GLOBAL COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Almost every day new revelations come to light about the Coronavirus, from the symptoms to the infectious rate. The evolving information makes it a moving target, further complicating decisions about how to move forward in the safest and most effective way. We continue to monitor the situation and rely on leading health authorities including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of State Travel Advisories
THE SIGNIFICANT EFFORT YOU’VE INVESTED IN STUDY ABROAD
We know and understand that you have worked diligently to make your dream of international study a reality. We recognized that you’ve poured so much effort into your college applications: researching colleges, networking with admissions officers, studying, churning out essays, compiling financial aid documents and sitting for interviews. We’ve developed a Future Focused Guarantee to help you manage and salvage as much as possible.
Every day we continue to gather the best information available to make decisions for our programs that will ensure the safety of our students and faculty and provide students with the most comprehensive study options. While the possibility for on-site study remains for some programs and locations, others may operate virtually until we can be assured of everyone’s safety.
WHAT WILL EDUCATION ABROAD LOOK LIKE AS IT EMERGES FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?
Online learning and virtual education abroad. Before this crisis, a number of education abroad programs used online learning to deliver course content, connect students studying at different program sites and guide and assess student learning. The pandemic has made it necessary for institutions and organizations to be even more creative in applying online learning for students who have returned to the United States. Programs have created course component videos of sites that would have been explored in person yet are now being introduced online. Some summer 2020 education abroad programs are offering virtual internships in which students in the U.S. complete an internship with a host company or organization located abroad. Such practices are expanding the education abroad “experience.”
CAN VIRTUAL EDUCATION ABROAD REPRODUCE THESE LONG-LASTING EFFECTS?
We can learn from what we see significantly impacting students and develop ways to replicate it to some degree virtually. While virtual education abroad will never be a substitute for an on-site experience abroad, it may be increasingly relied upon to engage students with the structured stresses of effective education abroad programming.
Despite the uncertainty associated with the pandemic, the outbreak can serve as a reminder of the importance of having a connected global community. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest news, updates and inspiration.