Higher Education is on the Move – Globally That Is

COVID-19 has already transformed the whole economic sectors. Restaurants, retail stores, gyms, hair salons, entertainment, travel and tourism, healthcare services, and more are not certain what their new normal will be once the crisis has eased and people begin to move about and congregate once again.

One sector that has certainly been impacted is education. Schools and colleges have closed their physical campuses and moved students to online learning. Many will certainly not open until next fall. And online learning has its own set of challenges, to be certain. Judy Prescott, Order Fulfillment Director for Grabmyessay writing service, puts it this way: “One of the challenges faced by students who are forced into online learning is confusion. They are no longer able to make appointments with their advisors and instructors; they cannot engage in the natural discussions of a classroom setting. It’s stressful and it leaves them to fend for themselves when completing assignments.”

When campuses closed all over the globe, international students were often “stuck.” Fortunately, most are home now, and those that are hunkered down in their host countries are moving forward with online coursework.

Where will this all end and what does it mean for international study in the future? We simply do not know.

Here is What We Do Know

International studies have been on the rise for years. And as the planet has become “smaller,” more and more students have opted for study abroad. After all, we have become more and more socially and economically connected each year.

We also know that online education as a venue is exploding. Students living in the United States, for example, can earn a degree from the University of London, through Coursera, without ever leaving their homes. And students are taking advantage of these opportunities for international study in growing numbers. They are especially beneficial for students in developing countries who themselves lack the financial wherewithal to travel abroad for study.

Online vs. On-Campus

There is no doubt that online education is convenient. Of course, quality can be an issue. Without providing students opportunities to collaborate with their peers; without the use of the latest technology, online students can feel isolated and on their own to master concepts and skills without suitable help. James Carleton, Marketing Director for the academic writing service Topessaywriting, says this: “We have seen a big uptick in the number of students who are in online programs asking for research and writing help. They are overwhelmed and frustrated without face-to-face contact with their instructors and are struggling to meet the requirements and deadlines of their essays and papers.”

Graduation rates from online programs have a huge range, from 5 – 66%, but the overall average is about 20% – not a good figure. If students are successful with online courses, it seems to be when they take a combination of on-campus and online classes.

But international studies are not just about the coursework and the degree. There are other very valuable reasons for students to travel to places afar for their academic programs.

Why International Study is So Popular

Today’s college students span two generations – millennials (the older ones) and Generation Z’ers (those just beginning). Both of these groups have a much wider view of their own “worlds” than prior generations. They see themselves as citizens of a world, filled with people who have the same issues and aspirations; they are much more accepting of diversity; they value equal justice; they want a clean and sustainable planet, not just a country.

It only makes sense, then, that these generations are far more interested in international study. Here are the many benefits:

  1. Seeing the world from the perspective of those who have grown up in widely different cultures and belief systems. American students who travel to a Scandinavian country, for example, will experience this, just as much as if they travel to India or Africa for their studies.
  2. Language skills. Even if a student enrolls in an international school that offers instruction in their native language, living in a foreign country allows the opportunity to become truly fluent in that language.
  3. It’s one thing to remain in your native country for your university training. It is quite another to go, all on your own, to a foreign country and learn how to function in a wholly different environment. It fosters self-confidence and the skills of putting oneself into a “foreign” environment and making the adjustments that are necessary to survive and thrive.
  4. Lifelong friendships. It is one thing to be exposed to foreign cultures, perhaps by international students who attend your own university at home. It is quite another to live alongside and to socialize and to make friendships among fellow students in their own countries. These can and will last a lifetime and serve to “broaden” anyone.
  5. Career prospects. Studying abroad, learning another language, and exposing oneself to another culture develop valuable “soft skills” that future employers will find valuable. As businesses continue to become global, they are looking for team members who also have global experience and outlook.
  6. Setting yourself apart when applying to grad school. Many students who study abroad as undergraduates plan to continue their education through graduate school programs. Admissions committees will take an interest in students who have successfully studied abroad because they can bring new perspectives to a program.
  7. You will never be the same person again. You have grown up in a national “bubble.” While you may have studied about foreign countries and cultures, real-life experiences with another culture will alter your perspective for the rest of your life. And this will be in a good way. You will get “outside” of your nationalism and can be a part of changing the perspectives of others around you.

We Are a Global Society Now

There is no turning back. We have reached the point on this planet where a major event in any country can impact the entire planet. And that has never proven truer than this current pandemic. While the saying, “We are our brother’s keeper” may seem trite and overworked, it is universal in many ways. We all have to broaden our perspectives and see the world through the eyes of those who are “different” from us. We must continue to develop ways to understand one another, to empathize with one another’s circumstances, and to develop a global “mindset,” if we are to address the issues that face all of us residing on this planet. The international study may only be a small part of this, but it is one that contributes.

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