Audio Interview

The impact of COVID-19 on higher education

Published on June 4, 2020   9 min

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Interviewer: Today I'm interviewing Dr. Wendy Purcell, who is a former president of Plymouth University in the UK and the Professor of Leadership and Governance at Harvard University. Dr. Purcell, thank you for talking to us. Dr. Purcell: Thank you for the invitation. Interviewer: To begin, how will current higher education models be affected by the crisis? Dr. Purcell: It's a really good question and I think the only thing that is a certainty is that there's going to be more uncertainty, this COVID-19 challenge is unprecedented. It's a humanitarian and economic crisis that's changing our world in real time and these seismic shifts are reshaping higher education. I think they're actually calling into question the sustainability of the higher education business model and revealing real fragilities in that model, but I think we're seeing higher education stepping up, it's beginning to create a new future as we plan for the new normal and think about new ways of doing business. Some of the new things that we're introducing I think we will see stay with us as we come out of the other side of this crisis, I think they'll be sticky. Some of the innovations around working from home, teaching students online, and creating a sense of community, I think will still be with us as we come out the other side of the crisis. One of the things that this COVID-19 challenge has shown me about higher education is the inherent change capacity that we do have. I've seen massive change programs enacted in a couple of weeks, when it would