Save Overseas Studies: COVID-19’s impact on students, institutions, and the economy

With the global response to COVID-19 affecting virtually all aspects of life, we at Flywire have been thinking a lot about its impact on international students.

We’ve written recently about ways to help students navigate visa issues amid the crisis, but we wanted to learn more about how broad the impact really is. To find out, we surveyed higher education institutions and current international students about the situation.

So what did we discover?

First of all, students are very concerned about their ability to obtain the visas they need.

Among those who require a visa for their studies, nearly 55% said obtaining the necessary authorization in time for the next academic year was their top worry. That’s almost double the amount who are most concerned about affordability of tuition.

But these students are also hopeful about getting the help they need.

Three quarters say they are confident or very confident that their institution or an education agent can help them navigate the visa process in time for the coming academic year. An even bigger majority, 95%, feel the Department of State should substitute video interviews and mail-in applications for the usual in-person student visa process.

As for institutions, the impact is also significant with 77% believing international recruitment strategies need to change. Education agents can be key to these initiatives, helping to connect institutions with students around the world.

And most important in those efforts? Payment flexibility. Nearly 80% say flexible payment options, like the ability to pause fees and offer refunds, is important or very important in attracting students.

When asked how important international students are to the financial health of academic institutions, 54% responded “very important,” with just 2% claiming they’re not important at all.

When it comes to the United States as a whole, the significance is seen as similarly great, with 82% calling international students important or very important to the economy.

And they’re right. International students make tremendous financial impacts every year, with education exports adding $41B annually to the US economy.

With so much on the line, it’s never been more important to plan for what lies ahead. Here are some resources to help:

  • Planning with Confidence in the COVID-19 Era: This report includes valuable insights on driving enrollments, addressing visa requirements, and more.
  • Flywire Agent Platform: Attracting and retaining international students is key to success. Find out how you can optimize agent relationships to aid your recruitment strategy.
  • Flywire Payment Plans: Flexibility is more important than ever, and payment plans help make education more attractive and affordable by bridging the gap between available financial aid and rising tuition costs.

Finally, sign our Save Overseas Studies petition to join us in asking the US State Department to implement plans to help international students return for the coming academic year. International students are counting on us!