To understand how the COVID-19 has impacted Taiwanese college students on their study and decisions of pursuing international education, the Association of International Cultural and Educational Exchange, Taiwan (AICEE, Taiwan) conducted an online survey to invite all students from universities and colleges in Taiwan to share their views. It is important to note here that while most universities around the world are forced to shut down due to COVID-19, Taiwan’s universities are among those few that are still opened.
Overall satisfaction: 99% acknowledged the anti-epidemic actions of Taiwan
The study shows that up to 99% of the respondents acknowledge the Taiwanese government’s anti-epidemic actions, and the international students highly praised universities’ prevention measures. 89.8% of the respondents acknowledge the anti-epidemic measures on universities, and 86.3% of respondents think that the universities’ anti-epidemic measures such as controlling the entrance and exits on campus, measuring body temperature, and maintaining social distance at student cafeteria, are appropriate. It is worth mentioning that although the universities receive high praise on the preventive measures, more than 80% Taiwanese students believe that it is possible for them to be infected on campus, compared with that of only 60% of international students believe so.
One-third of students felt online teaching less effective
When being asked about their views on the effectiveness of online learning, respondents have different opinions. 37% of respondents believe that online learning is less effective and 28.6% think that online learning creates a better learning effect than traditional classroom teaching. 34.3% stayed neutral. More than 70% of the respondents who felt online teaching to be less effective cited the main reasons like the lack of real interaction, distraction, or difficulty to focus. 20% of the respondents also think that the instructors are not familiar with online teaching techniques.
Professor Fong, Zhang Hua, President of National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan, believes that distance learning is a fresh attempt for students. The main reason that online learning is favored by students is because learning will not be affected by time and place. In addition, Taiwan can effectively control the spread of the epidemic is because of its previous experience in confronting SARS and advanced deployment. Citizens are used to wearing protective masks, which effectively helped contain the spread of the virus. He also believes that the epidemic will have a profound impact on higher education. In the past, people were more accustomed to communicating daily affairs online, but in the future, academic online discussions will increase. In addition to traditional large-scale physical seminars, more small online discussions with streamlined topics will be held, making it easier to invite researchers from different countries to participate.
Students’ international mobility willingness reduced because of the pandemic
The survey shows that the epidemic seriously affected students’ willingness of international mobility such as their participation, willingness for exchange programs, overseas studies, and joint degree programs. Whether it is Taiwanese students or international students, 55.2% of the respondents indicated reduced international mobility willingness, and only 22% maintained mobility willingness. As for the most important reason that affects their decisions on international mobility, more than 70% of students said that financial sources are the top consideration, followed by whether the university provided related resources, accounting for around 40%.
Professor Chih-Wen Kuo, Dean of Office of International Affairs at National Sun-Yat-sen University, Taiwan, stated that he still encourages students to study abroad and stay cautious about personal health protection. As for students who cannot go abroad, Dean Kuo suggested that universities may consider cooperating with overseas partner schools to provide online courses with credits.
Dr. C.J. Liu, the former Director General of the Bureau of International Cultural and Educational Relations, Ministry of Education, Taiwan, believes that the decrease of international mobility is only a transit phenomenon caused by the epidemic. It is impossible for the world to leave internationalization and not be affected by globalization. He also reminded that at the time when international exchanges were immersed, the government and schools should continue to invest in projects that help advance students’ international mobility. When the epidemic is over, Taiwan can immediately join the world and resume mutually beneficial cooperation and exchanges.
Internet is the main source of information for the young to acquire the epidemic developments
The survey shows that 76.5% of respondents check the developments of the epidemic every day. The primary channel for obtaining information is social media, followed by the mass media and the Central Epidemic Command Center of Taiwan. Chih-wei Hung, the founder of AICEE Taiwan, pointed out that the internet is the main source of information for the young generation. Since the outbreak, the CECC has used the LINE group and various online platforms to broadcast daily press conferences. It helps reduce information anxiety and improve the effectiveness of risk communication.
As for the psychological impact of the epidemic on college students, 85% worry that the epidemic may expand or get out of control, 56.4% worry that they will be infected, and 48.2% worry about the uncertainty of their future.
“The Impact of Covid-19 on Campus Life Online Survey” was organized by AICEE Taiwan. The survey time is from May 1 to 15, 2020 and it receives a total of 1,366 responses.