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Aim Higher - our research with CEBR predicts a post-COVID bounceback for the HE sector in the UK

This week we issued a new report with research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) which has predicted a recovery for the HE sector after a challenging period during COVID-19.

It’s no secret that the HE sector has been hard hit by Coronavirus. In addition to the need to close campuses and pivot to online learning within the space of just a few weeks, the number of international student enrolments in UK universities - a crucial barometer for the sector’s financial prosperity - has sharply declined due to the pandemic.

Cebr data suggests that the number of students arriving to study at universities in the UK from overseas will drop by almost 100,000 to just 167,907 next year. This figure is likely to have been suppressed not just by restrictions to international travel in light of the pandemic, but also by a decline in students arriving from Europe corresponding with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

However, there is positive news afoot. According to the report, student numbers are projected to reach 289,688 by 2024/25, an eight per cent increase on the 2018/19 academic year - the highest point pre-COVID.

This new data emphasises how the HE sector can look to international regrowth as evidence of a remarkable rebound from the COVID-19 crisis, however, to further strengthen the sector’s resilience, universities also have the opportunity to capture students’ digital needs in the interim period.

Whilst the number of international students physically arriving in the UK will take time to recover, HEIs must not miss out on the opportunity to demonstrate how students can still access a rigorous, high-quality learning experience remotely from their homeland.

In turn, students stand to gain from a remote learning experience that could prove enormously valuable in terms of harnessing the digital skills required for an increasingly tech-enabled jobs marketplace in the months and years to come.

So, it’s positive news and opportunities aplenty for HEIs in the UK. Take a look at our full report for more information and for expert advice on how to incorporate technology into learning, not just for now, but for long term growth.