Weekly news roundup: UK announces lockdown exit plan

By Nicole Wootton-Cane• Last updated: Oct 31, 2023
Weekly news roundup: UK announces lockdown exit plan
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Whilst the UK government announced its coronavirus lockdown exit roadmap this week, the outlook is still unclear for university students, who may not be able to return until late April at the earliest. 

Elsewhere, graduate school enrollments were down 39% in the US, but the figures aren’t all as bad as they seem, with applications and deferments on the rise. 

Here’s your weekly higher education news roundup.

UK announces plan to leave lockdown

The big news in the UK this week has come from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of England’s lockdown exit plan.

For universities, the outlook is slow and a little murky - campuses can start a gradual reopening from 8 March, with students on courses that require in-person teaching and assessment allowed to return. 

Students on other courses will be allowed back from a currently unspecified date, that the government says is likely to be after the Easter holidays - so most students won’t be returning before late April.

But with the whole country due to leave lockdown on June 21st, universities will be keeping their fingers crossed that everything goes to plan, and that the 2021/22 academic year is a lot less chaotic. 

Experts are suggesting that UK universities may need to consider lowering fees for international students as part of their coronavirus recovery plans. 

Janet Ilieva, who is an expert on student mobility flows and founded Education Insight, said that the effects of the pandemic could see international students fail to return in pre-pandemic numbers for several years. 

The most effective way to combat this, according to Ilieva, would be to lower fees for international students as an incentive. 

And A level results day will be pushed forward for school leavers in England this summer, in a decision announced by education secretary Gavin Williamson. 

The move is designed to give all students the opportunity to appeal grades and get remarks prior to the university term starting in September. 

USA sees drop in graduate school enrollment

New data from the Council of Graduate Schools shows that international student enrolment on US postgraduate courses fell by 39% last autumn, highlighting the effect of the pandemic. 

However, application numbers and deferrals were actually up, suggesting that US graduate schools could experience a strong recovery. 

Speaking to PIE news, CGS president Suzanne Ortega said that “One of the biggest lingering questions is how the deferrals will affect offers of admission and first-time enrolment for Fall 2021 and beyond, particularly if there are still travel limitations.”

Canada to give remote int’l students post-study work visa eligibility

International students enrolled in degree programmes at Canadian universities will now be able to access the Post Study Work Visa (PSWV) even if they are taking the course from home. 

A recent announcement from the Canadian government confirmed that those who have had to take the majority of their courses from home because of the pandemic will still be eligible for the PSWV, despite never having studied in the country. 

However, many students are still struggling to acquire their Canadian visa, and some say that the government should be focusing on how to help those facing delays in entering the country.

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