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NESET’s new publication on COVID-19 impact on higher education

25 March 2021

The Network of Experts working on the Social Dimension of Education and Training (NESET) has just published a new analytical report on the impact of COVID-19 on three specific aspects of higher education in Europe: teaching and learning; the social dimension of higher education (i.e. the effect on underrepresented, vulnerable and disadvantaged learners); and student mobility.

Authored by Thomas Farnell, Ana Skledar Matijević and Ninoslav Šćukanec Schmidt from the Zagreb-based Institute for the Development of Education, “The impact of COVID-19 on higher education: a review of emerging evidence” provides a synthesis of various reports on the same topic, among which the Coimbra Group’s publication  “Practices at Coimbra Group Universities in response to the COVID-19 – A Collective Reflection on the Present and Future of Higher Education in Europe”.It also proposes policy recommendations on actions to be taken at the level of higher education systems and by higher education institutions themselves.

Quoting from the one-pager provided by NESET, the report recommends that policy makers:

  • Support higher education institutions in upgrading and redesigning their curricula for online delivery and ensure the necessary infrastructure for such delivery;
  • Set up system-level schemes to further support access, retention and completion of underrepresented, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in higher education;
  • Stimulate the goal of international collaboration in higher education, including student mobility, redirecting funds originally intended for physical mobility to creative solutions such as “internationalisation at home” strategies, and high-quality virtual mobility.

Whereas it invites higher education institutions to:

  • Support both academic staff and students to better adapt teaching/learning in an online environment;
  • Provide additional academic, psychological and financial support to vulnerable groups of students to prevent their disengagement and drop-out;
  • Set up support measures to ensure that international students receive appropriate academic and psychological support and that, during course delivery, they have equal access to online learning tools;
  • Ensure more flexibility to enable students to successfully achieve their learning outcomes.

The Coimbra Group Office is pleased to inform that its working groups are preparing a second report on the challenges raised by the pandemic in higher education institutions. The publication is expected for October 2021.