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Adapting Higher Education Post-Covid

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Everyone within the education industry, whether student or teacher, has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

From teaching remotely and adapting to new schedules to novel technology and working from home, people have had to make adjustments to their daily routine. Now, as restrictions ease in many parts of the world, many education providers are aware of the issues and roadblocks that stand in the way of higher education achievement.

EU Business School, provided outstanding levels of teaching throughout the pandemic, and has also prepared students for life during the post-Covid-19 period. Here are some ways in which the higher education sector can adapt to the new normal in the wake of the pandemic. 

The impact on universities during the pandemic

While there is still progress to be made within the higher education sector with regard to inequality, the coronavirus pandemic forced many universities to confront long-standing issues such as high tuition costs and elitist admissions processes. In response to criticism over high fees, some schools sought to reduce their reliance on wealthier overseas students. 

With many classes being held online, more students are choosing to stay at home or rethink their future higher education plans. As such, universities are having to reframe themselves, quickly adapting in order to continue attracting the same volume of students.

Six ways in which the pandemic has changed higher education

1. Study anywhere

Remote learning has demonstrated that it’s possible for students to learn from anywhere, Many want to undertake their education on their own terms, delivered in a way that suits them. They are much more open to online learning platforms, blended learning, and part-time study options.

While many students are eager to get back to the classroom, there is still a significant percentage of young people who would be happy to continue studying from home. The challenge for universities is to provide high-quality teaching to both of these groups of students: will they allow all students to pick their own schedules, or will they maintain in-person teaching, at a reduced level?

2. Universities need to prove their value

University is an investment, and students and their parents are paying increased attention to the value that they receive from higher education.

People are more inclined to spend money when they know they’re getting tangible value from something, and this is what universities need to prove.

In recent surveys, 65% of college students were concerned that higher education was no longer worth the price. As such, it’s up to higher education institutions to demonstrate the value of learning.

3. Preparing students for their futures

Many students feel that they leave higher education unprepared for the world that awaits them. This is a significant issue, as many students go to university because they think it will allow them to make greater progress in life.

They are in search of a good job, secure income and a sense of control within their lives – and university should be able to help provide these things. Students want their learning to equip them with the skills and knowledge to be successful and get the jobs that they desire after graduating. 

4. Students care about location

Location has always been an important consideration for students looking to attend university, but this factor is set to become an even more significant part of their decision-making process.

Some students may choose to attend university closer to their homes, as they are worried about future uncertainty and travel issues, amongst other concerns. However, others want to move away to colleges and universities in more dynamic areas. Students overall are becoming much more in touch with their own needs and values, and they want to go study in a city – or country – that suits their personal preferences.

5. Robust online systems need to be in place

The pandemic saw many colleges and universities integrate some form of online learning. For some institutions, this may have been a rapid adaptation which caused issues for both teachers and students.

Uncertainty around the future remains, and universities need to be prepared to handle a variety of potential outcomes. While some institutions already had strong online systems, others had not embraced advancements in technology to the same extent – these were the schools that experienced increased struggles during lockdowns.

Smaller universities that don’t have large IT departments need to consider how they can improve their online programmes, and create stronger online learning programs. As digital learning is set to become a fixed feature of education, universities need to ensure that their systems can support large volumes of online students accessing resources simultaneously. 

6. Develop creative assessments

Written examinations that take place under silent, timed conditions are falling out of favor. Not only was the format impossible to support during the pandemic, it became clear that it was not the only way to carry out effective end-of-year assessments.

Written examinations are not always the best way to showcase the skills and knowledge of students – many people find the process of sitting exams to be intimidating, obtaining lower grades due to the pressure involved. Instead, many people believe that assessments should require demonstration of the creativity and flexibility necessitated by real-world settings, not getting students to simply recall information. In order to find a balance, universities could make a move towards open-book assessments that encourage academic inquiry. 

How universities can become more adaptive

Taking into account the changes listed above, how can universities become more adaptive?

Many institutions are set to spend the next few years focusing on crisis management, and ensuring that their teaching systems are able to handle increasing numbers of online students. It’s important that schools adapt quickly in order to avoid reductions in student numbers.

As such, universities must devise new models that prioritize student and staff requirements, identifying changes that make positive impacts and create the most value. They must also work together in order to learn from each other’s successes, designing solutions that allow them to obtain goals relating to improved education.

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