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How COVID affected the Higher Education Sector

It’s been over a year since the pandemic started, and within that time almost every industry or organisation has had to change its way of operating in order to survive and maintain functionality, and the higher education sector was no exception.

Universities and colleges are environments where students live and study in a close range of one another, so creating a new social norm to survive in Covid times proved to be tricky. However, listed below are a handful of examples that prove, despite the difficult circumstances, that the HE sector managed to overcome and evolve in response to the issues at hand.

Online Learning
Arguably the biggest change within the higher education sector has been the implementation of online learning. This meant that students could take part in their lectures on a digital platform from wherever they were able to. While online learning received its fair share of criticism, it created a much more flexible approach to learning and has increased students’ ability to retain course content and information.

Developing Stronger Online Systems
Following on from online learning, the next issue universities and colleges faced was on the technical side. While some of the colleges and universities around the UK may have had systems in place to facilitate online learning, some smaller Colleges and Universities faced issues with the new level of demand. Consequently, this led to an increase in colleges and universities working closely with their IT departments to make sure that the required programmes and software were robust

Impact on International Student Numbers
International enrolment in UK higher education reached an all-time high in 2019/20 however, predictably, the overall number of international students attending universities was heavily impacted by Covid-19. This was due to global lockdowns and travel restrictions but, luckily, new online learning features prevented students from missing out on crucial lectures and allowed them to access University facilities without being on campus. As global restrictions ease, the impact from last year is already recovering.

Covid did negatively affect some aspects of the HE experience for students, however, it did introduce a new way of increasing engagement and enjoyment within learners; through the process of gamification. This process has been used to help motivate students to learn and progress faster through giving them a sense of achievement. It has also been proven that this process has increased participation and has facilitated healthy competition amongst students.

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