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Covid-19 to Impact Demand for Higher Education and Accommodation

Posted by Richard Ward in

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

There are concerns the outbreak of Covid-19 could lead to the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds in tuition fees as students from China and other countries are forced to cancel or postpone enrolments.

Indicative reports suggest most universities are planning for new students from China to delay entry until January next year, with online teaching offered as a solution.

Moreover, exams, including English language tests required for visas and university admissions, have been cancelled in China.

Universities rely on overseas students and the revenue they generate from international tuition fees, with more than 120,000 students from China studying in the UK, with a further 17,000 from Hong Kong and Macau, and 8,000 from South Korea and Japan. It's estimated that a fall in enrolments from these regions could cost higher education in excess of £200 million in lost fees alone.

Commenting on the situation, Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International (UUK), said: "Coronavirus is likely to have a significant impact on this year's recruitment and admissions cycle for international students, including but not only from China."

She added: "Measures universities are considering will include greater use of online delivery and delayed start dates. Meanwhile, we are engaging with government on a wide range of issues affecting the student recruitment, admissions and visa application cycle."

With more than 90,000 students from China, Hong Kong, South Korea and other affected countries due to arrive in September, universities are bracing themselves for a substantial number of new entrants being unable to travel or to pull out completely.

To help combat the difficulties faced by students taking the English language qualifications, universities were looking at lengthening their pre-sessional English programmes and putting in extra language support.

Since the outbreak began, the British Council has closed down IELTS testing in China and several other countries. Other test providers have also shut, while governments have closed schools and colleges.