Be aware of how COVID-19 could impact international students

In a webinar hosted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers in early March, Gavin Newton‐Tanzer, Co‐founder and President of Sunrise International; and David Weeks, Co‐founder and Chief Operating Officer, also of Sunrise International, discussed implications and made recommendations regarding international recruitment, especially of students from China, the country the virus was mostly impacting in early March when they spoke.

Once classes resume in China, administrators will have no incentive to take risks by allowing outsiders, including international recruiters, into schools, Weeks said.

Delays in graduations and college entrance exams could mean prospective or admitted students will not be able to provide final transcripts by deadlines. Weeks recommended accepting unofficial transcripts until the final ones are ready. Test‐optional or test‐flexible policies might also enable more students to meet criteria, given test cancellations, he added.

Also, be aware that visa appointments in some areas of China are not available for months. Students can use a private‐sector agent for about $300 to get visas processed, however, Weeks said.

Plus, the financial impacts in China and in other countries could mean families don’t have the income they expected to pay for college. For example, in Italy, tourism, an industry shut down by the virus, accounts for 13% of the economy, Weeks said. Changes in families’ financial situations will impact current students as well. Tuition forbearance or late payment should be considered as options, Weeks said.

Consider communications options

While travel in person is not possible, your strategy to communicate with prospective or incoming students online is more important than ever, Newton‐Tanzer said. Because China blocks many social media sites commonly used in the United States, you’ll need to get up to speed on Chinese sites. It’s helpful to have student‐workers from China assist with that, he added. He recommended:

  • Weibo. Donation campaigns related to COVID‐19 can engage people with your institution.
  • Toutiao. This platform contains long‐form content.
  • DouYin. This is China’s version of TikTok. But it has evolved from funny videos to citizen journalism, Newton‐Tanzer said.
  • Zhumu. This is a videoconferencing solution similar to Zoom, with a Mandarin interface. Users have to download it.
  • VKaiJiang. This livestreaming tool is effective for information sessions.

Also consider embedding virtual reality campus tours in your social media posts, Newton‐Tanzer said. They are popular in China, he added.

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Font: World Health Organization

Be aware of how COVID-19 could impact international students - D'Olhos Hospital Dia