Covid-19 Leaves Universities Short On International Students—And Money
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Covid-19 Leaves Universities Short On International Students—And Money

Experts on the sector say it will take years for the schools, among the best in the world, to recover from the economic damage.

By Mike Cherney
Fri, Feb 5, 2021 5:36amGrey Clock 4 min

SYDNEY—Australia’s decision to close its borders protected it from the coronavirus. But that policy is wreaking havoc on the country’s universities, which relied on lucrative tuition from foreign students who are stuck overseas.

Experts say it will take years for the schools, among the best in the world, to recover from the economic damage. Already, Australian universities have cut more than 17,000 jobs, according to industry group Universities Australia. It said operating revenue fell 4.9% last year and is expected to fall another 5.5% this year.

“As students finish and we haven’t got new ones coming, we’re yet to hit the bottom basically,” said Peter Hurley, a policy fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy, which forecast that the country’s universities could lose up to $15 billion in international tuition through 2023.

Leaders all over the world have needed to balance protecting their populations from the virus with the economic damage that those policies can cause. But with a vaccine rollout expected to start in Australia soon, pressure is ramping up on conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison to provide clarity on how and when international students could return.

Leaders in the nation’s states and territories have pressed for some places in the quarantine system to be reserved for international students, but Mr. Morrison has argued that returning Australians must come first. Thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas because the government has imposed caps on returning travelers, part of an effort to ease pressure on its hotel quarantine system and to minimise the risk of highly contagious variants of the coronavirus from spreading into the community.

The matter could be discussed at a cabinet meeting later this week. Any change in policy could signal whether Mr. Morrison is ready to loosen border restrictions with vaccines on the horizon.

Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, said overseas students are starting to doubt that they will return to Australia this year. He is concerned some students may drop out and go study in other countries like Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.

“The stickability of those students is now in question,” he said.

Ahmed Korayem, a 32-year-old in Egypt, wasn’t sure whether to start a master’s program in compliance and regulation at an Australian university because of the country’s border closures. He worries that studying online wouldn’t be the same as being there in person and that it would be difficult to interact with his professors because of the time difference.

Mr. Korayem has decided to enroll at school, but he said a prolonged period of border closures could force him to drop out later.

“If it’s three months and then I would be able to move and continue my studies face-to-face, I can handle this. If it’s more than that, then I think no,” Mr. Korayem said. “The uncertainty can be stressful.”

Foreign students, particularly from China and India, have been lured to Australia by its relative proximity to Asia, easy access to visas and high-quality schools. Australian universities charged them higher fees than domestic students; international tuition at one point made up more than 40% of student revenue at universities, according to an estimate from the Mitchell Institute.

Although students can study remotely online, international-student enrollments were already down 14% as of November, according to Australian government data. The number of international students physically in the country has fallen further—and is down about 35% when compared with pre-pandemic levels—according to the Mitchell Institute’s Mr. Hurley.

“I don’t think anybody had on their risk scenarios literally no international travel,” said Paul Duldig, chief operating officer at Australian National University in Canberra, the capital. The school estimates its international-student tuition fees fell last year by about 30%.

Aside from cutting staff, universities are delaying campus improvements and eliminating fields of study. Australia’s reputation for producing important academic research is also at stake, given that universities used much of that international tuition to fund scholarly pursuits. About 11% of Australia’s researchers, including postgraduate students and staff, could lose their jobs due to the decline in fees from international students, according to research from the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education.

To make up for the revenue decline, the Australian government included about $770 million in aid to fund university research in this financial year’s budget. But a long-term solution depends on allowing international students back into the country, according to academics who have studied university finances.

Before the pandemic, Australia was the third top destination for international students, behind the U.S. and the U.K., according to United Nations data. Australian universities were also more reliant on international students than other countries. In 2018, 27% of all students in higher education in Australia were from overseas, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of wealthy countries that has 37 members. That was the second highest percentage in the OECD, behind tiny Luxembourg. In the U.S., just 5% were international students.

At Monash University, one of Australia’s top research schools, tuition from international students fell $85 million last year and overall revenue dropped by $270 million, a nearly 5% decline. The school is cutting 277 jobs and eliminating 2% of its courses. It is also shelving or deferring long-term building plans, including a new medical educational center, a biomedical teaching facility and an artificial-intelligence and data-science building.

Margaret Gardner, president and vice chancellor of the university, said having international students on campus enriches the academic experience for domestic students who get exposed to different cultures and viewpoints even if they are going to school close to home.

“It’s not just about plugging a hole,” she said. “I can’t begin to tell you how much difference it makes to the education you provide.”



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Anger Does a Lot More Damage to Your Body Than You Realise

We all get mad now and then. But too much anger can cause problems.

By SUMATHI REDDY
Fri, May 24, 2024 3 min

Anger is bad for your health in more ways than you think.

Getting angry doesn’t just hurt our mental health , it’s also damaging to our hearts, brains and gastrointestinal systems, according to doctors and recent research. Of course, it’s a normal emotion that everyone feels—few of us stay serene when a driver cuts us off or a boss makes us stay late. But getting mad too often or for too long can cause problems.

There are ways to keep your anger from doing too much damage. Techniques like meditation can help, as can learning to express your anger in healthier ways.

One recent study looked at anger’s effects on the heart. It found that anger can raise the risk of heart attacks because it impairs the functioning of blood vessels, according to a May study in the Journal of the American Heart Association .

Researchers examined the impact of three different emotions on the heart: anger, anxiety and sadness. One participant group did a task that made them angry, another did a task that made them anxious, while a third did an exercise designed to induce sadness.

The scientists then tested the functioning of the blood vessels in each participant, using a blood pressure cuff to squeeze and release the blood flow in the arm. Those in the angry group had worse blood flow than those in the others; their blood vessels didn’t dilate as much.

“We speculate over time if you’re getting these chronic insults to your arteries because you get angry a lot, that will leave you at risk for having heart disease ,” says Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a professor of medicine at Columbia University and lead author of the study.

Your gastrointestinal system

Doctors are also gaining a better understanding of how anger affects your GI system.

When someone becomes angry, the body produces numerous proteins and hormones that increase inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can raise your risk of many diseases.

The body’s sympathetic nervous system—or “fight or flight” system—is also activated, which shunts blood away from the gut to major muscles, says Stephen Lupe, director of behavioural medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s department of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. This slows down movement in the GI tract, which can lead to problems like constipation.

In addition, the space in between cells in the lining of the intestines opens up, which allows more food and waste to go in those gaps, creating more inflammation that can fuel symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating or constipation.

Your brain

Anger can harm our cognitive functioning, says Joyce Tam, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. It involves the nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex, the front area of our brain that can affect attention, cognitive control and our ability to regulate emotions.

Anger can trigger the body to release stress hormones into the bloodstream. High levels of stress hormones can damage nerve cells in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, says Tam.

Damage in the prefrontal cortex can affect decision-making, attention and executive function, she adds.

The hippocampus, meanwhile, is the main part of the brain used in memory. So when neurons are damaged, that can disrupt the ability to learn and retain information, says Tam.

What you can do about it

First, figure out if you’re angry too much or too often. There’s no hard and fast rule. But you may have cause for concern if you’re angry for more days than not, or for large portions of the day, says Antonia Seligowski, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who studies the brain-heart connection.

Getting mad briefly is different than experiencing chronic anger, she says.

“If you have an angry conversation every now and again or you get upset every now and again, that’s within the normal human experience,” she says. “When a negative emotion is prolonged, when you’re really having a lot more of it and maybe more intensely, that’s where it’s bad for your health.”

Try mental-health exercises. Her group is looking at whether mental-health treatments, like certain types of talk therapy or breathing exercises, may also be able to improve some of the physical problems caused by anger.

Other doctors recommend anger-management strategies. Hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness can help, says the Cleveland Clinic’s Lupe. So too can changing the way you respond to anger.

Slow down your reactions. Try to notice how you feel and slow down your response, and then learn to express it. You also want to make sure you’re not suppressing the feeling, as that can backfire and exacerbate the emotion.

Instead of yelling at a family member when you’re angry or slamming something down, say, “I am angry because X, Y and Z, and therefore I don’t feel like eating with you or I need a hug or support,” suggests Lupe.

“Slow the process down,” he says.

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