Research for the ‘Coping with COVID-19: International higher education in Europe’ report started several weeks ago as the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak began to be felt in the continent.

The report is based on 805 responses to this survey from individuals working in HEIs across the EHEA.

“The outbreak’s impact on academic mobility has been a subject of extensive conversation”

According to the report, nearly three-quarters of survey respondents characterise the effects on inbound student and staff mobility as either somewhat significant or very significant.

“COVID-19’s rapid global spread has highlighted the role that international travel can play in the broad dissemination of some communicable diseases,” the report explained.

“For this reason, the outbreak’s impact on academic mobility has been a subject of extensive conversation within the international education community in Europe and elsewhere.”

The survey asked several questions on the subject of mobility in an effort to find out the ways and extents to which the public health crisis is affecting international mobility in relation to European higher education. 

Inbound and outbound mobility, as well as mobility among both students and staff (academic and administrative) were considered.

More than two thirds (73%) of respondents indicated that outbound mobility of students had been affected as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, while 54% reported that outbound mobility of staff had been affected in some way.

Chart showing survey results for outbound student mobility. Image: EAIE

By contrast, 48% reported that inbound mobility had been affected in some way.

Chart showing survey results for inbound student mobility. Image: EAIE

China was the global epicentre of the outbreak at the time of the survey. As a result, the survey showed that the mobility disruption was felt most in China and Asia more broadly. 

The EAIE survey also explored how the COVID-19 outbreak might be affecting campus life and culture.

Some 70% of respondents said they had received no reports at their institution of discriminatory behaviour toward individuals from (or perceived to be from) countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

However, 13% of respondents across 21 different countries did report they had received such reports. Of this, 65 individuals provided additional information about how their institutions dealt with reports of discriminatory behaviour. 

The most commonly reported method of tackling this behaviour (46.2%) was to double down on awareness raising and information dissemination, to inform the broader community about the realities of risk and promote factual accuracy in the wider conversation about the outbreak. 

The second-most commonly reported response was to publish or circulate some type of public affirmation of support for the affected population or an indication of zero tolerance for discriminatory behaviour in general.

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