Make the world your classroom

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More countries than ever are actively involved in the internationalization of higher education. In 2020, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China and Australia hosted more than 50% of the world’s international students. In addition, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics had estimated that enrollments in these countries would increase between 6 and 8% between 2019 and 2030.

Unfortunately, the flow of international students crossing borders to pursue higher education has been significantly affected by the pandemic. Several popular study destinations abruptly closed borders to international inbound, and students and their families themselves were unwilling to take the risk of traveling. The good news, however, is that this is only a temporary state of affairs.

Research from IDP Connect’s International Student Crossroads study found that a majority of international students are willing to be vaccinated and self-quarantined in exchange for studying on campus and the experience of living on campus. abroad. Another study by QS Quacquarelli Symonds said that major educational destinations are now seeing an increase in the number of applications from international students to study in the 2021/22 academic year.

In the meantime, however, higher education institutions have had to change the way education is delivered, in order to ensure the same excellence in academic performance. They had to find ways to encourage engagement on virtual platforms, provide training for staff to ensure they are able to harness the full power of technology and support the mental well-being of staff and students. For example, at Heriot-Watt University, we’ve made learning very flexible with our responsive blended learning model that combines assisted online learning with context-specific, face-to-face learning opportunities, responding to dynamic way to the changing external context.

This approach allows students to continue their education alongside their peers and interact online with students from all over the world, wherever they are. And now we are seeing a definite appetite among international students to return to overseas campuses. The reasons include a strong desire to get back on track with academic and professional goals after months of disruption, vaccine availability, and the need not to miss the full college experience.

Finally, given the incredible benefits it offers, it’s no surprise that global student mobility is returning. For students, it gives them a chance to become more aware of the world, to become more adaptable, and to improve their language and communication skills. It allows them to familiarize themselves with work and life in an international market and promotes personal development. All of this gives students the attributes employers look for in applicants. For universities, international students help diversify the student body and attract the brightest minds, which in turn could improve their world rankings. It creates income for educational institutions and helps countries forge closer ties with each other.

Universities today offer several pathway programs for students seeking global mobility, such as core programs that bridge the gap between school and university, and pave the way for undergraduate disciplines. . These students can even take an online pre-session Academic English program to build confidence in English and develop study strategies to enable them to achieve the best of their ability for their degree.
The flow of international students fits perfectly into the mobility theme of Expo 2020 Dubai, which aims to bond, explore horizons at the heart of human progress and build a harmonious global society where information, ideas and goods are moving faster than ever. before.

Higher education institutions are uniquely positioned to advance this theme through global student mobility programs, such as Heriot-Watt University’s “Go Global” inter-campus transfer program. The underlying premise of Expo 2020 is that we all have the power to build a better world and shape the future. Global student mobility is therefore our contribution to this goal.

Lucy Everest is the Director of Global Operations at Heriot-Watt University


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