In this article, we’ll discuss the pathway for higher education after the Covid-19 pandemic.
1. Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Students
The previous ten years have seen significant challenges for higher education. COVID-19 has significantly increased the sector’s exposure to outside demographic, financial, technical, and political trends while posing significant short-term problems for institutions.
Even in the face of these significant obstacles, leaders stay unwavering in their dedication to their basic purpose. To effectively and sustainably fulfill their purpose in the years to come, higher education institutions must immediately reevaluate their value propositions and operational methods.
TIAA and EY-Parthenon conducted interviews with executives at 14 four-year higher education institutions, ranging in size from tiny liberal arts schools to huge flagship public universities, to better understand how institutions might respond to the pandemic’s consequences.
2. Deploy Agile Decision-making Procedures
Clearly define the student demographics and stakeholders they intend to serve, adopting adjustments to their program portfolio and operating model to reflect their clarified purpose. Leaders reviewing possible changes to their operational models will need to.
Redeploy human, financial, physical, and reputational resources in accordance with their new operating models. Deploy agile decision-making procedures that provide flexibility in response to an ever-changing environment.
3. Setting Up Higher Education In Terms Of Money
Colleges and universities have lately seen flat to falling student enrolment after decades of increase. Most four-year colleges engaged in competition on the same set of core criteria throughout the most recent expansionary phase. In general, colleges and universities provided a wide range of academic programs aimed at large segments of the student body, with little differentiation or specialization, leading to inadequate use of “capital.” For the sake of this study, we have divided capital into the following categories:
- Human capital is the sum of a university’s current and former students as well as its teachers, staff, and administrators.
- Financial capital is the amount of money that a certain organization has access to, as determined by its income, liquidity, and borrowing power.
- Physical capital is the land, buildings, technological infrastructure, and other tangible assets like hospitals and residential halls that make up an institution.
- The perception of an institution’s brand and intangible assets resulting from its purpose, values, leadership, and contributions to the local community and society at large is known as reputational capital.
4. The Current Condition Of Higher Education Leaders’ Minds
The US higher education industry is under increased strain as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and its unprecedented social and economic upheavals, which calls for an urgent response. The focus of institutions has been on operational triage and placing a high priority on continuity of instruction, communication, and safety.
Most universities have made enormous efforts to deliver in-person and/or hybrid education safely for the fall of 2020 after unexpectedly closing campuses last spring. However, as COVID-19 instances have increased in their communities, many have been forced to switch to remote learning or even temporarily vacate their dorms.
After COVID-19, higher education is expected to undergo a major transformation, yet executives we spoke with often downplayed how much their individual institutions may need to alter. Higher education institutions and their leaders must capitalize on the momentum COVID-19 has generated to keep evolving quickly in order to meet students and their families future needs if they don’t want to risk further, potentially irreversible, erosion of higher education’s perceived value as well as that of their own particular institution.
In light of their environment’s fast change, institutions must decide whether and how to pivot.
5. The Future Course
We discovered via surveys, interviews, and secondary research that leaders are obsessed with the COVID-19 reaction. Particularly leaders are most concerned with the immediate, severe effect on key income sources as well as the operational difficulty of COVID-19-safe campuses and online learning. The urgent measures that authorities are taking to address COVID-19 are a positive move in the near term. But COVID-19 has exacerbated already-existing headwinds in higher education, and leaders should take advantage of this chance to reform their institutions.
Some executives are beginning to assess their value propositions and the operational model, which includes the institutional structure, decision-making procedures, and capital sources. To allow long-lasting, revolutionary changes and to generate a distinct value offer that focuses on certain student groups and stakeholders, we urge all leaders to stop and prepare more comprehensive strategies.
Agility will continue to be crucial to the process of transformation as institutions learn from their experiences and make the appropriate adjustments. Redeploying the four forms of capital—reputational, physical, financial, and human—may be necessary throughout a transformation in order to steer the organization toward its intended future state.
The Bottom Line
Rather than waiting for things to “return to normal,” higher education leaders should prepare for a new normal that takes into account both current financial realities and the educational and social purpose they are trying to realize. While moving instruction online posed unique difficulties for teachers and students, it also gave rise to a degree of flexibility in instruction that mirrored the diversity of students and their needs. Students definitely fit the stereotype we have of them—young people who are enjoying life and studying to the fullest. However, they are also older, caregivers, working adults with families, and eager to take advantage of all that education has to offer.