Session highlights

We have to offer our students and their communities a capacity to prepare themselves for a future where pandemics are not going to away,” Professor Stephanie Burton, Professor and Senior Adviser, Future Africa, University of Pretoria, South Africa 

  • The pandemic has necessitated a wholesale move to remote learning which has led academics to reflect on how and what they teach, what elements of teaching get lost and how student engagement and communications are maintained. At Bahrain University’s school of architecture and interior design, a learning curve for both students and staff has led to changes in approaches. Feedback from students led to reflection on course content and adapting the role of teacher to become more fully involved with the e-learning process.
  • A research development programme created at The University of Pretoria gave students experience of research in the area of health and youth in the pandemic. It focused particularly on mentoring and communications, areas which can be lost in online teaching. Students highlighted the usefulness of the broad guidance and encouragement of the academic mentors at a time when they were anxious and isolated.

Session summary

This session will address how best to support university students in a higher education environment which has changed significantly with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 outbreak has brought to the world a new way of living, mainly virtually, adding complexity and asking for new approaches (WEF, 2020). Amidst the pandemic, this complexity has also been intensified by the need for adapting to the emerging digital economy, demanding from the organizations capacity for collaborating internationally in order to innovate (WTO, 2020), embedding the organisations in a global, digital and complex network.   

Part 1 - What do educational organizations need to do to succeed in this new environment? Three areas of support that may be neglected, and may be difficult to address online, are mentoring, ethics training, and science communication. These may be particularly important in the training of postgraduate students and early career researchers.

We will hear about how these activities are based on community-inclusive, cooperative programmes, some including aspects of indigenous knowledge systems and community participation. All activities all required elements of mentoring, ethics, and communication.   The second speaker will address the importance of providing to students, and the respective communities, the possibility of solving real-world problems, by diverse and different lenses, overcoming intercultural challenges and, consequently, preparing professionals and citizens for collaborating and applying technology 

We will also hear about an empirical case study for a course that was designed upon student preferences during the Pandemic 

Part 2 –  We will hear the students' voice about learning in the time of Covid-19 from three different cohorts and through a range of different activities, including  an interactive session about tools to enhance communication and interactions with students in an online session.


  • Prof. Stephanie Burton, Professor and Senior Adviser, Future Africa, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Prof. Ricardo Sérgio Neiva Nóbrega, Coordinator, Faculdade de tecnologia de Indaiatuba, Brazil
  • Dr. Reem Sultan, Assistant Professor, University of Bahrain, Bahrain