The ongoing pandemic has had an adverse impact on the overall global economy. In addition, due to restrictions on mobility, organisations have witnessed loss of business resulting in salary reductions and unemployment. Therefore, a lot of organisations are going through recruitment freeze and hence, placements may be more challenging in times of COVID-19. However, some strategies that may be built to ensure a strong future for the students are as follows:
The transition of educational institutions to online learning across the world has provided an opportunity for students to be a part of foreign education programmes without having to travel, and therefore, brings no major cost investment. HEIs could utilise this opportunity to increase international opportunities through:
The transition of educational institutions to online learning across the world has provided an opportunity for students to be a part of foreign education programmes without having to travel.
An additional layer of complexity will be added in case of dual degree programs conducted in collaboration with a foreign institution, or students pursuing semester exchange. The physical movement to and from India for these programs may not be feasible for the upcoming semester at least and it may be best to suspend any dual degree or semester exchange program temporarily. If the institutions continue with these programs, they will need to engage closely with partner institutions individually. Decisions also need to be taken regarding students whose dual degree or semester exchange programs were curtailed midway due to pandemic related restrictions in home country.
The purpose should be to ensure that the credits earned by Indian students abroad and foreign students at Indian institutions are valid and equivalent for earning their degree even after making the changes in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and policies as suggested above.
Dual degree programmes can be updated to allow students to access resources of the partner institution, attend online classes, and participate in virtual events. This will enable continuity in the exchange process virtually.
The institutions need to decide on the following three aspects:
The institutions may find it reasonable to significantly reduce the number of holidays and increase the work week since everyone is working from home. However, all such decisions need to move beyond utilitarian eﬃciency arguments and explicitly consider the likely impact of the changes on physical and mental health of students and faculty members. The following should be taken into consideration while planning the holidays and semester breaks:
Institutions also need to consider the diversity in the living conditions of the students and faculty members while considering workload during the semester.
Besides credit and course requirements, the institutions need to think about socialisation of incoming batches separately, especially if the institutions resume in an online mode.
The Undergraduate students entering institutions will be constrained in their interactions and will have limited knowledge of the institution; not being on campus can further widen this gap for them. Most of the students join institutions from diﬀerent boards where the focus is on textbook based learning. As opposed to this, HEI students are expected to conduct independent research by consulting diﬀerent books and resources from the library and internet. Further, group assignments are a part of the institution culture and most students in incoming batches may not have any exposure to such work. Located remotely, they may not get an opportunity to build a rapport with their group mates, a key ingredient of successful group work. Therefore, institutions need to make extra efforts to socialise students and induct them into institution culture and norms.
The institutions should take this as a serious endeavour to ensure that the transition of students from schools to HEIs is as smooth as possible under given circumstances.