The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s lives in almost every possible aspect. While it brought some benefits to the economic market, it presented a significant number of challenges to other sectors.
The changes had an impact on the healthcare system, the governance of different countries, and their social policies. The educational system and career opportunities are no exceptions to this trend. Both faced some serious challenges, although there may also be a positive insight to the whole pandemic situation.
For the last two years, students in Bulgaria have been bouncing between going to school and studying online. They have experienced a number of challenges during their online education like Internet issues, headaches, and the lost emotional connection to their peers and teachers.
“COVID-19 made children’s lives sad,” said Boryana Shalyavska, Director of Admissions at AUBG. “It created the impossibility of meeting people face to face and making warm connections with them. Students are constantly in front of their screens and thus lose the real connection with other human beings.”
The pandemic not only prevented people from having normal human relations but also affected the students’ motivation to study. Being at home, teenagers quickly lose attention and do not study the same way as in the classrooms. They do not have direct contact with their teachers and usually undermine the importance of participation in online classes.
“Many students participate in classes and other initiatives but are not active because everything happens online. The level of engagement is lower, and students are not as active as before,” Shalyavska said.
Because everything happens at the click of a mouse, the application process to university has become easier.
“It has become easier for the students to apply as everything happens online. From last year on, the application for financial support was also made online,” Shalyavska said.
Prospective AUBG students can even receive free access to a Duolingo English Test. The opportunity to go to Blagoevgrad and take a free TOEFL exam has now turned into a free Duolingo test.
“It is easier as it is entirely online. It allows people to attend it from everywhere if they have Internet access, a camera, and a microphone. This permits us not to organize an on-ground event during the pandemic. What is more, between 18 and 25 percent of the students who enroll at AUBG have taken the Duolingo test,” Shalyavska said.
The easing of the application process has resulted in a gradual growth of the number of applicants admitted to AUBG, as the Institutional Research Resources suggests. It gives regular reports on data collection and statistics, as well as special reports on numerous ongoing information requests.
They also conduct various surveys for the university's needs in assessment and planning. The Institutional Research Resources used to be a separate office but now, Evelina Terzieva, Education Technology and Integration Coordinator at AUBG, executes its tasks.
“I stepped into the role of Institutional Research in addition to my regular duties in the e-learn office in Spring 2020. Shortly afterward, in early March 2020, we were forced to shift online because of COVID-19. My priority was to facilitate the smooth transition to online learning. Since then, I have been dealing with supporting e-learning during the time of COVID,” Terzieva said.
According to the Institutional Research, last year, AUBG admitted 85% of the applicants, four percent more than in the 2018-2019 academic year. The admission rate has risen, but the enrollment rate has significantly fallen by 15% in the last two years.
“This year, we have admitted 286 girls and 251 boys. Nevertheless, we have 132 girls and 108 boys enrolled,” Shalyavska said.
Enjoying the article so far? Read the whole text and more interesting, entertaining, and informative pieces in AUBG Daily's Fall 2021 issue!
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