Universities are expecting revenues to decrease significantly as students choose to defer their studies due to the travel restrictions and other complications caused by the virus.
In the UK specifically, there is an evident decrease in the number of international students enrolling into MBA programmes. Initially, institutions were optimistic that people would choose to complete an MBA to make themselves more marketable in the face of rising unemployment, but actual student registrations are considerably lower than expected.
Many educational institutes switched to online classes wherever they could. Others that were not able to offer this facility may have been forced to close down. 2021 may see a continuation of online learning with new online institutions cropping up to fill the void created by closures of schools and colleges.
Academic programmes and content taught will have to be adapted to accommodate e-learning. According to a report by Ernest & Young, higher education will have to develop alternative pathways to learning by offering certificate and digital programmes to keep student enrolment high. The report also stated that public support for higher education may also be waning due to the exorbitant cost and time it takes to earn a degree. People will be more willing to obtain certificates by completing a shorter course and earning an income rather than spending four years on full time study.
The pandemic forced many companies and businesses to change their operations and many employees were able to work from home using technology that became increasingly accessible as the lockdowns wore on. The regular nine-to-five grind came to a screeching halt and some people found that they were even more productive while working from home than if they were at the office. Time wasted and stress experienced on the daily commute disappeared. Workers found that they had extra time to spend with family. Many families started cooking at home, eating healthier and improving their family life.
We saw the rise of the digital nomad and expect this trend to continue into the future. People have found more freedom and mobility in "setting up shop" anywhere that they have access to the internet. More video conferencing applications will probably be developed, each one better than its predecessor as we continue to work from home.
Companies like Google and Twitter announced that their employees will continue working from home in 2021 and beyond, and they call it "distributed working". However, many other companies have yet to share with employees their remote working policies. This will have to be addressed by companies' HR departments and governments to ensure employees are protected. There was a rise in employees reporting mental health issues such as anxiety and burnout because there was no clear demarcation between home and work.
Some thinkers believe we will see a rise in the adoption of a hybrid workspace model. Employees can choose to either work from home or return to the office but adhere to the physical distancing rules. Some companies may also follow a rota system where some of the team work remotely and others work from the office.
Many financial advisors are recommending that clients continue to remain liquid and flexible with investments. 2020 saw many people experience personal changes in circumstances. Having a flexible portfolio means being able to access your funds as the global economic situation changes.
Financial markets are expected to remain volatile in 2021 and you should distinguish between your long-term and short-term financial goals and ensure your investments reflect these goals.
The prospect of vaccines has improved markets somewhat with a potential end-date to this global pandemic when life across the world can resume - perhaps not as we once knew it pre-Covid but with increased global travel boosting global trade.
Going into 2021, this is a good time to take a serious look at your budget and trim off all the excess - unsubscribe to any unused items that get paid directly and that you may have even forgotten about, increase your savings wherever you can and review your insurance coverage.
We're all hoping that normal life resumes soon with the promises of the various vaccines that have been developed. With that in mind, it is expected that global travel will resume, and the wanderlust bug will bite once again.
When that happens, there is a list of best countries to move to, to appease that inner nomad in you.
As we slowly emerge from the chaos of 2020 and search for hope in the new year, let's not forget our enduring spirit for survival and innovation. Instead of returning to normal, let us build a new normal — a better, brighter future one that is socially responsible, where we are kinder to the planet and kinder to ourselves.
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