New horizons

The latter months of 2019 caused fundamental changes in the admissions landscape. In the USA, the change to the Code of Ethics means that admissions practices that were fixed are much more fluid

In the UK, the landslide majority for the Conservative government means that come the end of January, we will be leaving the EU. As Jane Larsson, Executive Director of the Council of International Schools said in Bilbao at the Global Forum on International Admission and Guidance in November 2019, these are times of political uncertainty.

A changing landscape with new horizons affects students, parents, universities, and counsellors trying to navigate to unmapped territory. If our role, whether in a school or as an independent advisor, has been to provide a map of how to get from a to b, what happens when things are turned upside down?

Well, my co-presenters at COIS provided some clarity. Marco Dinovelli of Rutgers University, USA, pointed out that while on the surface things had changed, actually, in reality, it was all the same. Mike Nicholson from the University of Bath, UK, noted also that fundamentally the universities themselves hadn’t changed. So yes, there was uncertainty, but as in the USA, fundamentally the quality of the education and the nature of the universities themselves was the same as this time last year. My former colleague, Annemiek Bailey, now at International School London Qatar, pointed out that as well as considering FIT from the idea of academic and financial fit, students should also consider ‘visa security.’ Where do you legally have the right to stay and work?

I still feel as if I’m staring into a murky crystal ball.

Luckily, I know I’m not alone. International conferences, our online discussion groups, and the old-fashioned picking up of the telephone, mean that we’re out there trying to map our way round this new landscape. The best thing about my profession has always been the sharing of knowledge.

We are here to help students be mobile - to provide a road-map to the best of our knowledge.

Undoubtedly there are changes ahead. Some of those have yet to be mapped out. While EU and UK students coming to the UK from the EU are guaranteed to start this coming autumn at the home fee status, I’d want to be asking questions about articulation agreements for study abroad outside of or in addition to Erasmus exchange or in addition to. I’d want a guaranteed partnership should agreement for future Erasmus exchanges not be agreed for the future relationship.

I’ve always advised students to have plan a, plan b, plan c. There are lots of opportunities out there. But as I look around, I shall be advising caution rather than presuming one can blindly step out on the ice. I shall continue to work on due diligence, and be advising the students I work with to do theirs. Welcome to the 20s!