COVID-19: Maintaining continuity in higher education

How can the higher education sector ensure continuity in teaching and research through the COVID-19 recovery period?

Ensuring continuity in teaching and research through the COVID-19 recovery period.

Higher education continuity during COVID-19 recovery

Like many industries, the higher education sector was significantly disrupted as the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic became increasingly clear throughout early 2020. 

This KPMG report shares insights on some of the achievements the education sector has made to date and shines a light on the challenges that will require consideration during the COVID-19 recovery phase.

We set out a framework for the recovery agenda, focusing on specific stakeholders and delivery elements of higher education that will need to be addressed, individually and collectively.



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Most universities were actively engaged with the final stages of the recruitment and enrolment processes for the first teaching periods in early 2020 and had to rapidly react to the emerging situation. Initially, they focused on the challenges faced by international students whilst progressively addressing the need to shut down physical campuses and learning spaces. Universities then moved the curriculum online and supported staff and students to a working and learning from home environment.

Resilience in higher education

Universities have shown great resilience during this time by rapidly addressing the dynamic challenges associated with the pandemic. The sector has shown that it can react quickly and effectively to support the needs of its staff and students to provide the best possible experiences given the environment.

Many of these achievements were in play prior to the pandemic and have been fast-tracked in response to COVID-19. The balance between physical and digital learning environments, improvements to learning management technologies, improvements to the student experience and world leading research capabilities have all been on the horizon for universities to varying extents.

Recovery and beyond

However, as universities begin to move from the reaction and resilience phase of the pandemic to the recovery phase, sector leaders have started to take action. Many of these initial actions have been in response to the major financial challenges created by the pandemic, with many universities heavily reliant on international student fees to fund core functions and services. As the decisions regarding the necessary savings are being made, the implications on all elements of the institutions need to be considered.

KPMG's framework to help universities navigate the COVID-19 recovery phase
KPMG's framework to help universities navigate the COVID-19 recovery phase
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