In our second ‘HE Leaders’ podcast debate, Jisc’s managing director of higher education (HE), Jonathan Baldwin, chairs a conversation around the post-COVID student experience.
“Being connected as a community has been really important,” says Julie Lydon, vice chancellor of the University of South Wales. She observes “a strong sense of collegiality” and “great creativity” among learners throughout the pandemic.
The deputy chief executive of Lancaster University, Nicola Owen, agrees:
“Students have been remarkably resilient. They’ve made the best of what has been a challenging period for them, and I think they have really appreciated efforts that have been made [by the university], seen that we’ve innovated as we’ve gone along, and participated in that innovation.”
In a comment echoed by all panelists, Owen notes:
“We’ve seen really high levels of engagement.”
There have been difficulties too, however. The CEO of Studiosity, Mike Larsen, says students report feelings of “isolation and anxiety” – combined with “gratitude for the efforts being made by universities to continue to support their learning and deliver their programmes.”
Baldwin praises the work that has been put into make this transition successful:
“All universities are grappling with this. Leading and managing in the digital world is very different from managing and leading in the physical world.”
Overall, Lydon says:
“HE in the UK has, for many years, been exploring ways in which there can be a greater partnership with our students, from the design of curriculum and learning experiences right the way through to students being on the governing body.”
COVID has accelerated the delivery of digital, remote and online teaching and learning, and Lydon welcomes greater accessibility and inclusion, and greater student participation, as a result.
The ‘HE Leaders’ podcast series develops themes from Jisc’s three-year strategy for higher education.
The third HE Leaders podcast will be available in June, bringing a different panel of experts together to discuss culture and leadership.