The Impact of Covid-19 on International Higher Education: New Models for the New Normal


  • Asha Kanwar COL
  • Alexis Carr COL



International Higher Education, Internationalisation, Higher Education and Covid-19


COVID-19 has had a major impact on international higher education with border closures, cancelled flights, and a shift to online teaching and learning. As a result, many international students have decided to either abandon or defer their plans to study abroad. If students stay in their home countries, many institutions that rely heavily on foreign students’ fees will suffer, with potential impacts on national economies. Beyond the economic implications, it is also important to consider the personal impact of COVID-19 on international students, who may face delays or obstacles to program completion, employment and/or immigration. Though there are certainly risks and losses in the short term, the demand for international education, and the benefits it offers, are expected to grow. This presents an opportunity for higher education institutions (HEIs) and governments, not just to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on their current business models, but to explore new models and opportunities. HEIs and governments must look at redefining international higher education for the new normal, which will entail a shift in policies and programmes. This paper outlines the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for international higher education and presents potential opportunities for governments and higher education institutions to refresh and redefine their approaches for the new normal.

Author Biographies

Asha Kanwar, COL

Professor Asha Kanwar, one of the world’s leading advocates of learning for sustainable development, is the President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning. Throughout a career spanning over 40 years, she has made outstanding contributions in the areas of teaching, research and international development.

Alexis Carr, COL

Alexis Carr is the Monitoring & Evaluation Manager for the Commonwealth of Learning. She  supports COL in the areas of project management, research, and monitoring and evaluation. She has authored or co-authored numerous publications and peer-reviewed articles based on COL’s research.



How to Cite

Kanwar, A., & Carr, A. (2020). The Impact of Covid-19 on International Higher Education: New Models for the New Normal. Journal of Learning for Development, 7(3), 326–333.



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