According to a global survey, students are strongly in favor of continuing with hybrid education.
Many students felt that the Covid-19 pandemic was the first time they had ever experienced online learning. Universities around the globe were forced to cancel face-to–face classes because of lockdowns.
It seems that most students have already experienced the benefits of online learning and are eager to learn more.
Many will be disappointed as a small number of universities are planning to return to a model in which in-person is the only way to go, at least for the short term.
According to a survey of more than 5,000 students and university officials from all over the globe, 53 percent of respondents said that the pandemic continues to impact their education two years later.
Over a third (36%) of students paused or reduced their courses. One in five (20%) changed majors and 7% changed universities altogether.
Nearly seven out of ten (69%) stated they were concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their careers. Around a quarter (27%) expressed concern that it would make it harder to get a job after graduating.
However, there was a division between university leaders and students over the future direction of higher education.
According to the survey conducted by Anthology, an ed tech company in partnership with UNESCO education body, students indicated a preference for continuing at least some online learning.
Over four out of five students (82%) stated they would prefer that at least some course meetings be conducted online. Two in five (41%) preferred online learning entirely, without any in-person component.
Only one-fifth (18%) of respondents wanted to go back to full-time in-person classes.
However, almost a third (30%) of higher education leaders said that their university offered only fully in-person classes. This is closely aligned to student preferences but too late for many students.
North American university leaders were most likely to expect to offer fully in person courses by 2025. However, students from North America were less likely to prefer in-person learning.
Only 1 in 5 (21%) university leaders predicted that they would offer 100% online courses by 2025.
Nearly two-thirds of students (63%) stated they want all their courses to be online, but less than half of university leaders (46%) expect this will happen by 2025.
Jim Milton, Anthology’s Chairman and CEO, stated, “Universities continue to drive digital transformation. They face new hurdles around every aspect of course delivery and support services, accessibility, and how they equip students and staff with technology.”
“We believe technology plays an important role in shaping higher education’s future around the world, and the results of this study confirm that view as leaders examine the impact of data and technology on student experience.”
The survey included 2,700 students and approximately 2,500 university leaders from around the globe, including those from the U.S.A, Australia, Brazil and Japan.
While universities may not be as optimistic about the future of learning as their students, it is clear that education is changing.
Hybrid learning, or blending learning, has been heralded as the future but never making it mainstream.
However, the shift to online education at all levels of education has caused a profound change in attitudes. What was once considered to be a fringe business has become expected. This is not only among university students.