Two global surveys: Redefining higher education after Covid-19

This Going Global session explored the findings of two global surveys. The International Association of Universities (IAU), a UNESCO-affiliated global membership and advocacy organisation, looked at the impact of Covid-19 on higher education around the world, whilst in early 2020 EDHEC Business School interviewed 5000 people in France, UK, US, India and South Africa about their opinions on higher education.

Giorgio Marinoni from IAU said that their aim was “to get an institutional perspective on the medium-term impacts of Covid-19 and responses to the pandemic”. They received responses from 496 higher education institutions in 112 countries. Discussing the impact of Covid-19 on student enrolments, he said that the survey found a big difference between domestic and international student enrolments, with HE institutions reporting a decrease in international enrolments. Enrolments of domestic students and adult learners have remained stable.

Emmanuel Métais, Dean at EDHEC Business School in France, said they wanted to find out what people around the world had in mind when thinking about higher education. Asked about the differences between countries, he said, “We have probably have entered era in which higher education has become globalised.” Although there were some variations, the survey found broadly the same profile between countries. He said when people were asked about their satisfaction with HE in their country, levels were very high, between 70-80 per cent. However, when asked more detailed questions about specific things such as the quality of teaching and technology, satisfaction levels were much lower.

Responding to a question on the impact of Covid-19 on teachers and teaching, Emmanuel Métais said, “The most striking thing for me is that people are really aware that the role of teachers is going to change tremendously in the coming years. Education will be less about repeating the same thing to classes of students. ‘Standardised knowledge’, such as basic courses in maths or finance, might be delivered online or by robots, whilst professors will have to be focused more on providing very specific knowledge. They will be involved in the human side of teaching – encouraging the acquisition of soft skills, teaching the right learning methods, and motivating students.”

When asked which learnings from the pandemic will continue into the future, he said, “We won’t go back to what normal life was like before the crisis, especially in terms of internationalisation.” He added that sending students to other countries to do a course they could do at home was ‘nonsense’, and that instead distance learning could replace this and then students could go abroad for things such as internships or missions for NGOs.

Giorgio Marinoni said that although most institutions responded that online learning will continue, “what we’ve seen until now is not really a shift to online teaching and learning, but a shift to emergency remote teaching. Real online teaching and learning needs much more training of professors and teachers, which will take some time.”