Coronavirus and Its Impact on Education

Today, there is hardly an area that is, to one degree or another, not affected by the consequences of the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic impact on the higher education system differs from country to country and has its specifics in different regions of the world. Nevertheless, the general vector of these changes can be traced: the pandemic has put universities under challenging conditions, forcing them to adapt to the current events in the shortest possible time, spend significant funds for accelerated digitalization, and often make decisions without considering possible consequences.

The pandemic harmed international cooperation in education and science:

  • International travel was canceled.
  • Exchange programs and academic mobility of students and academic staff were suspended.
  • Many research cooperation programs were paused.

Universities and colleges found themselves forced to solve a lot of pressing issues in a short time: in what forms to conduct distance learning; what technical means to use; how to assess the assimilation of the material by students; how to conduct final exams and how to recruit for the next academic year.

Coronavirus and Its Impact on Education

The urgent transition to distance learning has given rise to many interrelated problems:

1. Some countries were unable to switch to online education for various reasons, including the lack of material and technical support for universities, the lack of broad coverage of Internet networks, the low standard of living of the population, etc.

2. There is a significant decrease in the quality of education during the transition to distance learning in the absence of existing learning management systems in many countries – software for providing and administering training courses within the framework of distance learning. Fortunately, during the past ten years, there has emerged a significant quantity of student help services that offer free guides on how to write any papers, tips for writing with examples, and other helpful information that students around the world can turn to when they have questions and face problems.

3. Problems arise with online applications through which colleges conduct remote seminars and lectures. Some higher educational establishments have announced that they are abandoning the Zoom platform and switching to Google Meet or other applications. Due to hacker attacks, online education at several leading universities was temporarily suspended. The concept of Zoombombing has emerged, characterizing actions related to the violation of online spaces, including hacking virtual classrooms, posting pornographic or hateful images, shouting offensive language, etc.

4. University sites work unstable due to the increased load on databases and information systems of universities.

5. The qualifications of employees for the transition to online learning are not enough: there is no knowledge about the available platforms and services for remote learning, functionality, effective teaching methods in online format, etc. What is offered by most universities in developing countries does not meet the high standards of online learning and education.

6. The pandemic has harmed higher education institutions’ work in all countries of the world without exception. They found themselves in conditions of a lack of resources and experience to establish short-distance learning at a decent level. There are no experienced programmers and web designers, institutional, logistical capabilities, no proven high-quality educational resources, no understanding of online teaching features and distance learning methods.

7. International students found themselves in an equally difficult situation. As a result of demands to vacate dormitories and the university campus as soon as possible, students had difficulties finding housing. Due to the closure of borders and the cancellation of flights, many international students could not return home, faced financial problems due to the inability to find a job, were cut off from medical services on campus, etc. It will undoubtedly negatively affect the recruitment of international students future. Many researchers expect a significant drop in student enrollment and lower enrollment rates.

What Can We Expect?

According to UNESCO, over 1.5 billion students in 165 countries cannot attend classes due to coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has forced the global academic community to turn to new teaching methods, including distance and online learning. It has proven challenging for both teachers and students, who have to cope with the negative emotional, physical, and economic consequences of the disease while helping combat the virus’s spread. No one knows what the future holds, especially the millions of students who will face a global economy severely hit by the pandemic after graduating from university this year

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