Have there been any changes to the admission process post-pandemic?
Yes, where exams and assessment have been impacted by Covid-19, universities have been working closely with various qualification and examination boards to adapt their entry requirements. For example, where students cannot sit examinations, many universities are accepting school assessed coursework and predicted/calculated grades. Many universities are also extending the validity of English languages proficiency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL.
The main disruption has been issues with testing, be these national exams, entrance tests such as SAT, ACT, BMAT etc., or proof of English tests. Universities have had to adapt to these changes in many different ways. Where possible, some have become ‘test optional’, whereas in other cases universities have found other ways to assess student learning. Universities have worked closely with exam boards to make things work for students.
How have universities adapted to the new normal teaching, delivery and student life?
Universities have worked incredibly hard to move much of their teaching and learning online; delivering lectures, tutorials practical classes and even internships, virtually, for over a year now. Universities have invested heavily in the technology to support their virtual classrooms and continue to learn and adapt their teaching so that subjects can continue to be offered in both face to face and online as well as in a hybrid (dual delivery) mode.
Universities have also transitioned their student support services online and student clubs and societies have also adapted their activities to be able to offer crucial social connection, peer to peer support and valuable networking and community engagement opportunities virtually.
This depends very much on the exact situation a university is facing. Countries with high-rates of Covid, universities with restricted physical space, and courses with high-touch elements, have all been impacted by the need to reduce physical interaction. However, for rural, large universities in isolated areas for courses that involve independent study, the situation is different. Universities have all done their best within the situation they face.
The pandemic has shown the need to up skill and future proof yourself. What changes have universities made to adapt in terms of curriculum, learning and others.
Universities have been developing curriculum and future proofing graduates for many years but the importance of this has further emphasized over the last 12 months. Universities work closely with industry partners to develop curriculum that aligns with industry needs and focuses on developing the skills, knowledge crucial to career success. Highly sought after graduates often undertake a well-rounded, multidisciplinary education and make the most of opportunities inside and outside of the classroom (eg. extracurricular activities, leadership and professional skills development, mentoring, networking, volunteering, internships, exchange and study abroad).
The pivot to remote, online delivery has allowed much innovation, from asynchronous learning, virtual proctoring of assessment and a different focus on pedagogy. Some of this will be retained when the pandemic is over.
What is the best advice that you can give to parents now who are planning to send their child overseas for higher education in a few years?
In an uncertain world, don’t just make a plan A, make a plan A, B and C. Think about alternate destinations and consider a wider range of institutions so you’re prepared to respond and adapt as conditions change.
The pandemic has shown that the best-laid plans can very easily fall apart. Rather than focus on one particular country or university, families need to take a broader view of the opportunities available to them and work on a Plan A, B and C.
What insights can you share on how students are settling in their academics and student life in UK, Canada and Australia?
Students have adapted well to the changes in delivery mode and have learnt valuable lessons regarding how to approach their studies and maximise the university experience. Students have also learnt how important it is to stay connected with their peers and the wider academic community and the value of strong social and academic support networks. While students still favour face to face interaction, they are finding meaningful ways to connect with each other, despite being physically separated.
UK/Canada In the UK, students have been able to get to campus, so there has been much in-person learning and students have had a fairly strong campus experience. This has not been the same in Canada, where it was very difficult for students to enter the country until relatively recently.