In mid-March, when COVID-19 challenged every aspect of ‘normal’, the European higher education and student housing industries entered an unpredictable time with regards to knowing how best to secure positive learning and living experiences. Given the nearly daily changes accompanying the situation, many higher education institutions and student housing operators chose to follow an active co-learning path, flexible scenario-planning and making bold decisions when necessary. During the summer, Bonard and The Class of 2020 launched a joint research project with the aim to provide as accurate and up-to-date information as possible to assist industry leaders in making further strategic decisions to create more sustainable knowledge ecosystems for global talent amidst the pandemic.
As a first phase, the coalition released a snapshot of the current situation in nine key European study destinations (Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the UK), assessing multiple variables that can impact student mobility, with the information gathered from trusted sources as of 23rd of August.
The aim of the collaboration is to provide the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19’s impact on student mobility. Bonard and The Class of 2020 have assessed multiple variables taken from trusted sources that impact student mobility to assist our community of industry leaders in making further strategic decisions.
Although all countries covered by the research will start the academic year this fall, the continuously changing situation makes it a challenge to determine the health and safety regulations needed. Where some countries were optimistic about primarily offering on-campus education, most now lean towards mainly offering online classes with on-campus education as an option.
The regional snapshots present more positive prospects for student mobility than what the industry anticipated immediately after the outbreak. However, it is evident that uncertainty remains and the (potentially) changing situation is creating complexity more than clarity. Global talents will speak for themselves once the academic year is fully open at different times throughout the fall. The Class of 2020 and Bonard will continue to investigate the situation moving to the next phase of their research collaboration.
The recent poll conducted by The Class of 2020 to determine which topics are most urgent, important and relevant concluded with 100 voters, showcasing rather evenly distributed responses for all four topics, including the overview of universities’ decisions (14%), change in student mobility behaviour (30%), short to mid-term impact on student housing industry (30%) and longer-term forecasts for higher education and student housing industry landscape (26%). The poll result suggests that all four areas are closely intertwined, however, slightly higher interest lies in what actually happened to student mobility as most universities announced their decisions, and on what impact it will have on student housing industry’s short to mid-term strategy, likely due to continuous change COVID-19 brings to the industry landscape.
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