86% of US Universities Plan to Resume In-Person Study This Fall, Survey Finds

US higher education institutions expressed optimism that international enrolments and study abroad numbers will start recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic soon, the latest and fourth COVID-19 Snapshot Survey by the Institute of International Education (IIE) has revealed.

According to the survey findings, 86 percent of US universities are planning to continue in-person study in the fall this year, and none of the institutions are aiming to provide only online teaching. Similarly, 90 percent of the institutions are planning to offer in-person teaching for international students as well, Erudera.com reports.

The survey has also shown that 43 percent of institutions reported a rise in their international student applications for the next academic year (2021/22).

Whereas, nearly 50 percent of institutions said they expect an increase in study abroad numbers for the upcoming academic year, which number improves compared to last year when 97 percent of institutions projected a decline in the number of students studying abroad.

IIE’s Head of Research, Evaluation, and Learning, Mirka Martel, said that universities are preparing for a strong recovery in international education enrolment while they emerge from the pandemic.

“We anticipate the recovery to come in phases, tied to vaccinations and travel guidelines. But there is definitely a concerted effort by US higher education institutions to reopen their campuses and encourage all students, including international students, to return to in-person study,” Martel said.

Other key findings were that 64 percent of institutions are planning to offer COVID-19 vaccines to their students, faculty, and staff on campus, including international students, 45 percent of institutions reported they will not impose a COVID-19 requirement before students return to campuses, while only 14 percent of institutions were positive about a vaccine requirement.

Data have revealed that several doctoral universities have experienced an increase of 59 percent in the number of applications, whereas the majority of community colleges have reported decreases of 58 percent.

49 percent of institutions will prioritize safety, plan for in-person study abroad for fall 2021, which could increase to 54 percent by spring 2022.

Findings also show that student recruitment remains a priority, with 73 percent of institutions focusing on online recruitment, 68 percent working with current international students on other campuses, whereas 65 percent on social media.

The IIE report named Preparing for the Future: The Path Forward for International Education Exchange includes data collected from a total of 414 higher education institutions, from April 15 to May 5, 2021.

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