Austrade regional market update on impact of COVID-19 22 April

Austrade will provide weekly regional updates on the progression and impact of COVID-19 around the world, to support the international education sector as the situation continues to evolve. These reports are compiled using the latest on-the-ground information and advice. The following updates include markets and regions for:

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Middle East and Africa
  • North Asia
  • Latin America
  • South Asia

North America

The US and Canada now have more than 672,000 and 31,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases respectively.


  • Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that students planning to study in Canada in May/June can begin their programs online from their home country in preparation before coming to Canada.
  • Canada predicts a $6 billion drop in international student tuition revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A survey by the British higher education consultancy, Quacquarelli Symonds, said that 54 per cent of international students intending to study in Canada will defer admission by a year. Further, 15 per cent of prospective international students have changed their intentions and are no longer planning to come to Canada.

United States

  • 27 states and 3 US territories have ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of the academic year.
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that stranded foreign students in the US facing economic hardship can apply for off-campus work authorisation.
  • US Secretary of Education Betsy Devos has outlined that career and technical education (CTE) programs can donate or loan personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies purchased with federal funds to healthcare providers, hospitals and public health agencies during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, colleges have been providing empty dorm rooms to house first responders and healthcare workers.
  • New York City Department of Education has reported that at least 50 employees have died in recent weeks due to suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
  • A survey by Fishbowl, a community app for education professionals, found 35 per cent of respondents reported that online class attendance was as low as 0 to 25 per cent in the wake of school closures, and 55 per cent saying less than half of their students were attending.
  • The Council on International Educational Exchange is set to cut more than 600 jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) in the US Department of Education is asking educators and families to share their questions about effective distance education tools. Their goal is to understand the specific challenges that teachers, students and parents have faced during the rapid transition to online learning.
  • The College Board announced the 2020 Advanced Placement exams will go on, although with some changes, despite COVID-19 school closures. Exams can be taken at home or at school, if they are open, and will take place at the same time worldwide 11-22 May.
  • Non-profit assessment provider NWEA predicts that due to school closures, some students could be as much as a year behind in math when they start school in the fall.
  • A study of the impact of the last recession on higher education anticipates post-COVID there could be an increase in the number of undergraduate students driven by older adults; decreases in funding and subsequent budget cuts; and increase in student borrowing.
  • Boston-based EdTech startup Unruly Studios announced they are launching a pair of initiatives to support educators coping with the ongoing coronavirus crisis:
    1. The Unruly COVID-19 Educator Grant program that provides $250,000 worth of Unruly Studios active STEM learning product, Splats, to 500 educators. It is open to any elementary and middle school educators in the US and Canada.
    2. Opening their online learning platform for free to all educators.
  • Connected Learning Summit, scheduled to be held in July at MIT, has been cancelled and will not go virtual.


  • Several countries are seeing a slowing in the number of new cases of COVID-19.
  • While some countries have extended their lockdowns, all are actively planning their exit strategies and many have already started to ease a limited number of restrictions.
  • The European Union’s (EU) external borders currently remain closed to all non-EU nationals until at least 15 May.
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