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Survey: Majority of Learners Believe the Pandemic Will Fundamentally Change Higher Education

In a recent survey of learners of all ages around the globe, 79 percent of respondents agreed that colleges and universities will fundamentally change because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And 88 percent said that online learning will be part of the higher education experience moving forward. The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Pearson, polled 7,038 people aged between 16-70 years old in seven countries about key trends in education and work.

Among the findings:

  • 66 percent of respondents think their country's education system has done a good job adapting to the needs of students during the pandemic, while 34 percent feel it has failed students.
  • 74 percent believe fewer people will be able to afford a university education as a result of the pandemic, and 65 percent think fewer people will seek out traditional university degrees.
  • 78 percent believe online learning will give people more access to a quality education, but 87 percent conceded that not everyone has access to the technology they need to learn effectively online.
  • 84 percent said the pandemic has made the digital divide more obvious between those who have access to technology for learning and those who don't.
  • 88 percent said educational institutions should take advantage of tech to maximize learning, but 67 percent feel education institutions are less effective at using tech than other industries, such as healthcare or banking.
  • 87 percent agree that colleges and universities need to adapt faster to the needs of today's students.

The survey also touched on the issue of reopening college and university campuses: While 77 percent of respondents think reopening universities is vital to a healthy economy, 62 percent said that institutions are risking the lives of students by reopening in the fall. And 79 percent said that within 10 years, more students will opt for online learning compared to attending a traditional institution.

The full Global Learners Survey report is available on the Pearson site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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