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Should first year university students defer school amid distance learning concerns?

In a recent survey, the University of Toronto recorded 539 deferrals in 2020, up from 314 in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic is, unsurprisingly, making deferrals an appealing choice for many students who may feel fear, anxiety and uncertainty starting college or university in such an unfamiliar environment.

There is evidence which speaks to the variety of ways to make distance learning work, and supports the theory that remote education has been working. Thus, uncertainty alone may not be enough of a reason for a deferral. In this article we’ll examine what a rise in deferrals means for international students and universities. We’ll also show how distance learning with the right tools can still lead to a positive college experience.

Increasing deferrals and universities

The rise in deferrals makes sense given the extraordinary situation in which so many students now find themselves. The social aspects that students find so important about the college experience are currently restricted. For many students, focusing becomes increasingly tricky when lessons and tasks are communicated only through a computer screen, especially when it’s a new college experience.

For international students, with borders currently closed, the ability to study or learn in another country with a top-rated university is also fraught with challenges.

Deferments by domestic students have a negative impact on schools, but universities charge more tuition to international students, making them a crucial part of maintaining high educational standards.

Take for example Australia, which accepts more international students into its universities than any other country globally. Australian universities have had to cut more than 17,000 jobs and have lost roughly 5% of their total revenue. Universities in Canada and the US, where 14% and 5% of students are international, will also see losses if they can’t make remote education attractive to global students.

Why deferrals aren’t always the answer

While universities might fret about the growing number of deferrals, the option remains appealing for many students worldwide. After all, the current pandemic situation is nothing short of extraordinary. However, there are many reasons for students to take a chance on an extraordinary first year.

Often, the appeal of taking a deferral or a gap year is to travel and gain experiences. However, with the pandemic, such a benefit has all but evaporated. Taking a deferral can also lead to a severe loss of educational momentum.

How to make remote education work

At Crowdmark, we’re well aware the right tools can make a difference. There are two leading solutions for educators looking to entice students to stick with education through the pandemic.

Firstly, students should be able to submit assessments without difficulty. Secondly, there should be no confusion for students when they are navigating their grades through digital grading software. Crowdmark has dedicated itself to providing solutions which eliminate both of these issues.

Digital assignment submission

Crowdmark’s assignment submission system is so easy to use that students can submit homework on their mobile phones. For many students, navigating online submission systems can become a source of significant anxiety. By making handing in assignments more straightforward and intuitive, students are more likely to focus on learning.

Digital grading software

After assignment submission, students anxiously await their grades. However, grading can be a lengthy task, even before everything went remote. By the time students receive their grades, they’ve forgotten how to apply the lessons they could have learned from their mistakes.

With digital grading software like Crowdmark, instructors can return assignments to students with meaningful feedback quickly. This reinforces the idea that professors are really engaging with students and helps fight the remote learning disconnect.

Defer that Deferment

While taking a pass might be tempting for students, their first year of university can be their most important. There’s no reason why remote learning can’t be just as fulfilling as in-person education—it only takes the right digital grading software. At Crowdmark, we’re very proud of the education solutions we offer. Feel free to read up on the ways we help improve higher education.

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About Crowdmark

Crowdmark is the world’s premiere online grading and analytics platform, allowing educators to evaluate student assessments more effectively and securely than ever before. On average, educators experience up to a 75% productivity gain, providing students with prompt and formative feedback. This significantly enriches the learning and teaching experience for students and educators by transforming assessment into a dialogue for improvement.