COVID-19 Updates and Resources

COVID-19 Updates and Resources2020-03-19T10:49:39+01:00

QS Quacquarelli Symonds has assembled the following resources and updates to aid higher education professionals during this coronavirus outbreak. We will continue to identify best practices across the sector and provide insights to facilitate discussions and benefit the industry.

To contribute to our analysis of COVID-19’s impact on the higher education sector, please complete our survey for higher education professionals here.

Additionally, if you would like to support our data collection regarding how coronavirus is influencing student decision making, please share this link to the prospective student survey. The results of these two ongoing surveys will be shared regularly on this page.

The World Health Organization defines coronaviruses as “a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).”

A new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) was first encountered in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are tiredness, dry cough and fever.

The coronavirus outbreak has sent ripple effects through our global community and will continue to disrupt our way of life for several months yet, reminding us that nations are incredibly interdependent in the 21st century.

Beyond the tragic loss of life, we’ve seen an unprecedented impact across a number of industries including the higher education sector. Chinese higher education institutions still have closed their doors long after the Lunar New Year, study abroad students have been left in transcontinental limbo, and international students are facing a once-unimaginable scenario: will they be able to complete their application or join their classes in time for their intended intake?  This scenario has already affected many Chinese candidates who have been unable to join Semester One classes in Australia.

QS conducted a survey at the end of February of over 2000 prospective international students, to understand how the crisis has affected their intentions to study abroad. Nearly two-thirds (60.4%) of respondents said their plans to study abroad had not been affected by the Coronavirus.  However, over a quarter (27.5%) of respondents said their plans to study abroad had been affected. 10% of respondents said they now intend to defer their entry to next year. 8% of respondents said that they now intend to study in a different country. Reassuringly for the sector, only 2% of respondents said are no longer planning to study overseas. You can see more details on our blog on

Despite this unfortunate global crisis, the colleges and universities that QS serves continue to inspire me with their commitment to furthering educational opportunities for international students, whether those students reside in an affected nation or not.

If there is anything this international crisis has reminded me of it is this: the dedication that institutions give to fostering relationships with students will ensure that our evolving, interconnected global community will only continue to strengthen and grow.

At QS, we remain cautious of such global threats and steadfast in our commitment to supporting international student recruitment endeavors. It was with much scrutiny and concern for those that we serve that we decided not to hold several of our spring student recruitment events throughout Asia and, more recently, Northern Europe. We were instead able to reschedule or replace those events with Digital Events, enabling students and institutions to continue to build relationships remotely.

QS joins higher education communities around the world in our concern for all affected by the coronavirus. We also endeavor to innovate and confront this disruption head-on.

Like many institutions offering virtual classes to suit the needs of students with limited access to travel or brick-and-mortar classrooms, we are taking some of our events virtual, offering a series of “Virtual Connect MBA” and “Virtual Connect Masters” recruitment events in May. Please contact us if you would like more information.

While there are significant challenges ahead, higher education institutions, and in turn QS, are continuously adapting and learning, focusing on meeting students where they are and finding flexible, innovative solutions to overcome these odds.

Lest we forget, before the internationalization of both commerce and education, we did not have the ability to consolidate the world’s best minds to unearth the most cutting-edge research. The same interdependent, global community that has exposed our vulnerability to this virus is also bringing together the best scientific minds from around the world, sharing genomic and clinical data at unprecedented speed, and producing a vaccine in the shortest possible time.

QS will be providing updates to our student surveys regularly over the coming weeks. We also invite educators to share how their institution is responding to coronavirus by completing the following survey:
The results will be anonymized and combined, with the resulting insights shared through, in order to help facilitate discussions and identify best practices across the higher education industry.

  • [Update 12.3.20] QS will be postponing student recruitment events in Greece and Russia. If your institution was booked to attend you should have received notice from your Account Manager. If you have any questions please contact us.
  • [Update 11.3.20] To check on the status of the upcoming QS conferences, please visit this page.
  • [Update 10.3.20] The QS Connect MBA event in Vienna on 14.3.20 will be hosted online. If your institution was booked to attend you should have received notice from your Account Manager. If you have any questions please contact us.
  • [Update 10.3.20] QS will be hosting all Asia student recruitment events online for May 2020. For more information, please visit this page.
  • [Update 6.3.20] Read more from Nunzio Quacquarelli, CEO here.
  • [Update 26.2.20] QS’ student recruitment fairs scheduled in Italy for March 2020 have been postponed until May. All bookings will be transferred to the new dates. If your institution was booked to attend you should have received notice from your Account Manager. If you have any questions please contact us.

We highly recommend that you consult with your national government for advice regarding all aspects of the coronavirus. You may also want to consider: travel restrictions, self-quarantine periods, restrictions on public gatherings e.g. sporting events, seminars, lectures.

Please also refer to the information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

QS Resources