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“For established providers of online learning, it’s business as usual”

Carl Lygo, Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Arden University, explains how universities will need to adapt to a “new normal” of supporting students online following Covid-19.

OnlineCarl Lygo hopes that the future will see a widespread acceptance that online can be even better than campus-based education. Photo: Pixabay

My youngest boy said to me that it is “fake school” because it is online

“Now more than ever, the world needs higher education. Experts are on the front line fighting this pandemic, and science is the guide in this battle. In the inevitable economic recession that the world is entering, people will be looking to upskill and take refuge whilst the world adapts to a “new normal”.

The higher education industry has shown great resilience in dealing with the recessions of the past, and I am sure the entrepreneurial zeal of the sector will shine through to support people in their hour of need.

“I am sure the entrepreneurial zeal of the sector will shine through to support people in their hour of need”

Arden University is currently delivering 100% online education worldwide supported by an amazing team of people all fully working from home. Our experts have carried on throughout this pandemic so that our students are able to make the most of the global “working from home” philosophy.

Therefore, there is absolutely no need for our students to put their careers on hold. We have continued developing the university, offering new degree programmes targeting the jobs of the future.

The majority of our students study purely online, but we also have teaching centres in Berlin, Birmingham, London and Manchester where students study partly online and face to face. We have replaced these face to face classes with online face to face teaching, training all faculty on the use of our preferred software within the space of a couple of days. Communication has been the key throughout the organisation.

Traditional degree providers who rely on the uniqueness of their real estate, their halls of residence, and whom have a de-centralised approach to the delivery of teaching are really going to struggle to adapt. I have seen this for myself with my children’s schooling. I have five children aged nine through to 16, and I have been witnessing their schools attempts to deliver online education.

“International students are going to ask tough questions about how their university dealt with the coronavirus”

The teachers have been a bit reluctant to embrace new technology, hardly offering any face to face online classes, and the interaction has been minimal. My youngest boy said to me that it is “fake school” because it is online. I then showed him an Arden University online class and he asked me why his school could not be like this.

The truth is that it takes time to develop a proper online pedagogy, but I am hopeful that out of this pandemic there will arise a widespread acceptance that online can be even better than traditional campus-based education. Campus-based universities are probably hoping that the consequences of this pandemic are going to be over in the next six weeks, but I just don’t see how that is realistic.

Even if there are not second and third waves of infection as countries come in and out of lock downs, students are not necessarily going to want to travel immediately. We are now always going to be thinking about the next mutation of the virus, and when will the next pandemic happen.

The new “normal” for the world is going to be very different to the globalisation we have been familiar with. I am sure we will still see flows of students travelling to study, but it will take time to build confidence again.

International students are going to ask tough questions about how their university dealt with the coronavirus. Were students evicted from their accommodation and made to feel unwanted?

The German government has announced a financial aid package for international students as well as automatic visa extensions. I think students will want to reduce the risk of being caught in such a pandemic again, and will seek more innovative ways of completing a degree.

I was one of the first to sign up as a NHS Volunteer, and we are supporting our colleagues at Arden University to also volunteer on full pay. It is so important at this time to support the wider communities that we all belong to.

Education is about helping others and our team have devoted their careers to helping students achieve their ambitions. It is only natural we want to help the NHS at this time.

2021 is going to be the year for those who have seized the opportunity and adapted. In my office I have a framed quote from Winston Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Arden UniversityCarl Lygo, Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Arden University

Previous columns:

“We will survive. We have to”: View from AIFS, Bill Gertz

How do you show solidarity virtually?, Ruth Arnold

 

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