Empowering Students During COVID-19

So There’s a Pandemic

In mid-December, the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Wuhan, China1. Within the following months, the virus would spread to 210 countries, infecting over 3 million people, and killing over 207,0002. Understandably, these events would bring about many changes to nearly every facet of human daily life around the world, in what has been referred to by many as “the new normal”3. This has included government-mandated shutdowns of large public gatherings, city-wide curfews, rationing of essential products such as toilet paper and water, and of particular interest to this post: travel restrictions and the temporary shut-down and/ or switch to online classes for many schools4.

What Does This Mean For Students?

For international students, this has certainly been a period of tough decisions and a lot of waiting. According to an ongoing 2020 QS survey, which first began releasing data in late February, the percentage of respondents who felt that their international education plans were impacted by the pandemic rose from 27% to 53% in just two months, with 46% of those planning on deferring entry until the next academic year 5. Many prospective international students (61%) expressed a willingness to complete their degrees at least partially online5.

Student Needs Remain a Global Priority

On the institutional side, many schools have already gone online for the spring term, and are awaiting updates on incidence rates of the virus in their areas before releasing information on in-person courses for the fall term. Some countries have begun dispersing relief packages and assurances for institutions and students heavily impacted by the public health measures to curb infection rates. For example, the US government dedicated US$14 billion to higher education in March, and the American Council on Education (ACE) has asked for a follow up dispersion of US$47 billion in emergency aid due to projected losses of at least US$23 billion for the fall term6. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued an allowance for international students planning to begin studies in May or June to complete up to 50% of their programs online with eligibility for the Canadian Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program6. Possibly following Canada’s model, Universities UK has asked the nations’ ministers for a comprehensive relief package to be dispersed among higher education institutions in all four nations. The plan released by Universities UK includes a proposal for “additional flexibilities in the visa system to support international students… and flexibility on English language and other requirements for visa applications…”6

Our Message To International Students

The higher education and career aspirations of international students has always been our focus here at August Network. We remain committed to serving this population during this time, with staff working around the globe to equip our clients with the most current information and connect them with the best-fitting programs for study and work abroad. Our agents continue to seek out novel paths to success during this time in order to bring our students as many options as possible. The last few months have been a time of uncertainty and rapid change for many of us, especially those who are finding their educational plans affected. The resiliency and adaptability of students across the globe is commendable. We see you. We’re here to help. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!


  • Li, Qun, et al. “Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 382, no. 13, 2020, pp. 1199–1207., doi:10.1056/nejmoa2001316.
  • “Coronavirus Cases:” Worldometer, 27 Apr. 2020, www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.
  • Borio, Luciana, and Jennifer Nuzzo. “How to Build a Post-Covid ‘New Normal’ .” POLITICO LLC, 24 Apr. 2020, www.politico.com/news/agenda/2020/04/24/how-to-build-a-post-covid-new-normal-205603.
  • “COVID-19: Social Media Engagement Is up and so Is Interest in Learning Online.” ICEF Monitor – Market Intelligence for International Student Recruitment, ICEF GmbH , 22 Apr. 2020, monitor.icef.com/2020/04/reaching-out-to-reassure-and-engage-international-students-online/.
  • Linney, Sarah. “How International Students Are Responding to COVID-19.” QS, Quacquarelli Symonds, 16 Apr. 2020, www.qs.com/how-international-students-are-responding-to-covid-19/.
  • “Measuring COVID-19’s Impact on Higher Education.” ICEF Monitor – Market Intelligence for International Student Recruitment, ICEF GmbH, 20 Apr. 2020, monitor.icef.com/2020/04/measuring-covid-19s-impact-on-higher-education/