The pandemic has set universities back, students are demanding refunds, new students may not come through in as great a number next year, and as such, questions are being asked of where universities are going to go next. The answer to that question seems to be twofold: greater international partnerships and greater use of technology.
As argued by the IIE for institutions to survive the pandemic and the fallout there will need to be greater international partnerships. This isn’t just limited to student exchanges or recruitment but through conference panels where scholars from numerous institutions can come together to share their wisdom with others in their field. The development of training courses and specially tailored programmes for nations such as Brazil and Myanmar to enable institutions to develop partnerships within and without those countries and other considerations such as tracking and evaluating the benefits and consequences of existing and developing partnerships whilst also looking to see how progress can be made going forward.
By contrast, Dr Brandenburg argues that for institutions to move forward from the pandemic, there needs to be a greater embracing of technology. Brandenburg argues that universities are too slow on the uptake in adopting changing circumstances, and with the advent of AI and virtual realities the world of student exchanges may well be completely changed forever, as may the recruitment of international students. Whilst acknowledging the use of platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams as a way of conducting lessons, Brandenburg states that Universities must think long term, and consider linking up with technological and scientific researchers to develop tools that will enable students to undergo a virtual experience that can consequently shape partnerships and agreements between universities and students alongside university to university partnerships.
Simply put, things won’t be going back to the old normal. Universities must adapt or die. Perhaps that will be for the best.