According to a new survey from the Institute of International Education, 37 percent of institutions have said that students were unable to come or return to their U.S. campuses due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. More than three-quarters of institutions say that outreach and recruiting events in China had been affected.
Of the nearly 50 percent of universities that had students scheduled to go to China for study abroad programs in the spring semester, 94 percent had canceled or postponed them.
At the University of Connecticut, officials are developing a program that allows admitted students from China to take instruction online for the fall semester and then join the campus in person in the spring. The university also is looking into providing housing over the summer for incoming students from China who are already attending U.S. secondary schools and enrolled students who cannot return home.
"We have close to 10 percent of our entering class coming from mainland China. If you're thinking about 10 percent of the class may not actually be able to come for reasons that are beyond our control, that's concerning," said Nathan Fuerst, a UConn vice president for enrollment planning. "We're concerned for students' safety and wellbeing, and we're concerned for the institution and everything they bring to the institution."
Schools in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have begun offering flexibility on deadlines for testing and application materials, said Derrik Karst of eduFair, a company that connects Chinese students and international schools. In light of the test cancellations, many universities also have begun temporarily allowing students to demonstrate English proficiency through online platforms such as Duolingo.
The University at Buffalo, like many U.S. schools, typically sends representatives to China for an orientation session for accepted students and their families. This year, if needed, they are looking into hosting a reception online.
Buffalo administrators also are following virus developments closely and fear it could affect domestic enrollment, if students are reluctant to study far from home, and long-term international enrollment of Asian economies are sent into recession.
As of Thursday, there were around 150 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States. There are more than 95,200 individual cases around the world.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.