(from Inside Higher Ed and ICEF-Monitor) Learning institutions that have come to rely on Chinese students for enrollment are facing a significant challenge as COVID-19, previously referred to as novel coronavirus, continues to spread in China. Some students in China have been unable to return for the spring semester due to travel restrictions. Colleges have canceled study abroad programs and university-sponsored travel to China, including recruitment travel. February dates for college entrance exams in mainland China have been canceled. Regular visa services at the U.S. embassy in Beijing and consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang Provinces have been suspended. Just how severe the impact will be will depend on many unknown variables, among them: how long the outbreak will last, whether or to what degree it can be relatively contained, when local and international travel restrictions may be lifted, whether Chinese colleges and schools reopen in time to finish their terms more or less on schedule, and how damaging the virus ultimately ends up being to the Chinese -- and indeed the global -- economy. After the SARS outbreak in China in 2003 -- perhaps the closest but in many ways an imperfect parallel -- Chinese enrollments to the U.S. dipped by 4.6 percent in 2003-04 before beginning to recover the following year with a 1.2 percent increase. Chinese student enrollments in the U.S. have increased every year since then.
If normal operations can resume by the end of March, impact will be moderate, but if they last till June the impact will be significantly higher, according to the British Council.
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