Albert Sánchez-Graells (How to Crack a Nut)
Like every other sector, higher education is suffering the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are still waiting to see whether the emergency transition to online teaching will work out and whether alternative assessments will deliver fair and appropriate results. This will forever be the ‘COVID-19 academic year’, but we still do not really know what it will end up looking like.
We are also yet to understand the deep implications of the pandemic on the functioning and sustainability of universities and academic communities around the world. The UK is perhaps in a particularly strange and vulnerable position due to the marketisation of its higher education sector, the associated waves of strikes over the last two years, the economic dependence on international student fees (mostly from China) and the global mobility of its top talent.
There will be temptations to go back to ‘normal’ or as close as possible to ‘business as usual’ (perhaps with an intervening sector-wide bailout). I would argue that, in many fronts, this should be resisted. The current shock to the way things were done should make us reflect upon what does not work in academia, what scrambling through the challenges of COVID-19 is teaching us, and what we want for the post COVID-19 academia. I have a few thoughts…