Will the future of the classroom be confined to a zoom call, and will social events at university be restricted to House Party? As the pandemic has gone on and lockdowns have extended and then slowly been fazed out, it has seemed as though this may be the future of Higher Education. Naturally, this has caused many institutions to worry and to ponder how they can still deliver what they were founded for, and not lose out on the so-called new normal.
Higher education has long faced calls for change, and the adoption of technological solutions to the problems that it faces, the covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for solutions. Due to existing health guidelines and the lack of a vaccine for coronavirus, in person teaching as was done before the virus is unlikely to resume in great numbers any time soon, meaning that institutions are going to have to find another way to make the learning experience worthwhile for their students.
The desire to use Zoom or other online platforms to teach large groups of students however, has already met with resistance from students. Some of whom have begun demanding reimbursements for lost teaching time, claiming that the experience of a Zoom lesson significantly pales in comparison to an actual in person lecture or tutorial.
This has naturally impacted the admissions pipeline, with many prospective students feeling anxious about going to university in September. There are concerns that many potential students may defer their university choices until the following academic year which would be a massive hit to the university sector. All because of the uncertainty around how universities are actually going to teach students, how they are going to keep the university life going and whether or not social distancing and other medical safety procedures can be followed.
Universities are now having to abandon long honed strategies of using sub committees and senate to develop their plans and proposals for change. Instead, what we are witnessing is a fast moving system that makes changes as the blows come. The next few months will be crucial for higher education institutions, how they adapt to ever changing circumstances will determine whether they survive.