International education providers support not only the academics but also the personal well-being of their students, and dealing with the recent scare of the novel coronavirus is no different. While classes proceed as usual while institutions show flexibility during this difficult time, universities and colleges around the world continue to work with government agencies to implement preventive measures and manage the risks brought by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Universities are taking all precautionary measures
Educational institutions around the world have made a number of fact sheets for students to navigate around the latest health emergency. Several colleges and universities have also taken precautionary measures to ensure that transmission of and exposure to the virus are minimized.
Providing support for international students who wish to return home
With many cities in China on a lockdown because of the virus, a handful of international students are unable to return to their host country for their studies. However, universities are providing support to those who wish to return home, as well as those who want to return to the country where they study.
Universities have also established a quarantine process for thousands of international students. In Australia, for instance, current travel restrictions apply to those students who had left China and who had travelled abroad for 14 days and showing signs of symptoms.
Extending the enrolment deadlines
Many universities are extending their enrolment deadlines in order to give way for international students. Some colleges have moved the start date of the semester, with thousands of students signing a petition to delay the start of classes by at least one month. Universities, on the other hand, are implementing measures to minimize the disruption of classes as much as possible.
Universities and colleges are offering online classes
Schools are also setting up online classes and learning courses amid the coronavirus threat. Students are advised to contact their education providers for support, whether regarding enrollment or other concerns that may be affected by the current circumstances. Universities and colleges are offering flexible arrangements for those affected students.
Providing temporary accommodation for self-quarantine
Universities and colleges have also provided temporary accommodation for those students who opt for self-quarantine. This is a challenging time especially for Chinese students, who have always been valued members of the education community. The situation is causing distress and anxiety particularly for those who have not been able to return to the country where they study, or return home because of travel restrictions.
We all know that preparedness and prevention are the best ways to stop an outbreak from spinning out of control. The way we deal with this crisis will ultimately affect the international education sector in unprecedented ways and reflect on us as a global community.