The COVID-19 Pandemic and its Effects on the Future of Study-abroad programmes at Selected Universities in South Africa
Keywords:study-abroad programmes, edu-tourism, South Africa, COVID-19, travel intentions
This study seeks to explore the early considerations that COVID-19 induced mobility restrictions placed on study-abroad programmes at universities in South Africa. The study considers how, given the negative impacts that were felt with international travel being largely restricted, universities in the Western Cape province approached study-abroad programmes during the restrictions and post restriction considerations. Data for this pilot study were collected via a mixed-method approach targeting international students and key resource persons through the international offices at four universities in the Western Cape. Twenty-three international students and two key resource persons responded to the pilot. Key indications highlight a European dominance in the demographic distribution of participants while illustrating a steady interest in the study-abroad programmes irrespective of the challenges induced by the pandemic. While the anxieties and uncertainties induced by the evolving nature of the pandemic were noted, emerging trends from the data highlighted areas of focus for future resilience strategies to shore up the sector from future crises, the scale and nature of COVID-19. As a pilot to a broader empirical study, it is hoped that the outcomes will contribute towards the development of conceptual tenets for the sustainable development of the study-abroad programme segment within the international higher education nexus while providing context for proposing mitigating actions and strategies which would help higher education institutions move from a crisis management situation to more long-term resilience planning.
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