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Internationalisation strategy shift mapped in survey

The impact of Covid-19 on university internationalisation strategies has been identified in a new report which shows that 66% of institutions are considering a change in strategy.

More than half of presidents said that recruiting international students will be their institution’s top internationalisation priority

The International Association of Universities published its second global survey report, ‘Higher Education One Year into the COVID 19 Pandemic’, in which higher education institutions set out their plan to enhance internationalisation.

The survey gathered responses from 496 higher education institutions in 112 countries and territories from all regions of the world between February and June, 2021. The findings indicated that the pandemic will affect institutions’ approaches to internationalisation.

Some 91% of these institutions surveyed have an internationalisation project in place, with many, including 64% of African institutions, currently discussing a change in strategy.

One of the areas most severely impacted by the pandemic is international student enrolment with particular emphasis on student exchange. A total of 76% of respondents said that student exchanges to other regions had decreased during the pandemic.

In a bid to improve this, 93% of public institutions noted student exchanges as a priority along with 86% of private institutions.

With some barriers surrounding international travel remaining, the majority of institutions in all regions want to focus on virtual exchanges and collaborative online learning.

“There is a need for understanding about where we are today and how to prepare for the future”

Speaking at a webinar which launched the report, Hillligje van’t Land, secretary general of the IAU, said that “the pandemic has accelerated change and there is a need for understanding about where we are today and how to prepare for the future”.

The survey is the second in a series of three which cover the the impact of Covid 19 on higher education, belonging to a larger set of activities carried out by the IAU which will be shared with global policy and decision makers.

Along with teaching and learning, the survey asked questions on governance and financing, research and societal engagement which were distributed with the assistance of IAU’S partners, Association of Indian Universities, the Francophone University Agency, Hungarian Rector’s Conference, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Association of Commonwealth Universities and United-Nations University, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability.

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