Covid-19 brought unprecedented challenges to the global education system. Countries locked their borders, and universities shut their doors to international students, jeopardizing their safety and legal status. The pandemic also exposed the inadequacies and inequities of the education system, leaving education experts with the task of evaluating it as schools slowly reopen. The situation also affected children’s mental health due to increased anxiety, anger, and disappointment (Romeo et al., 2021). The book Global Higher Education during and beyond Covid-19 outlines the reasons for the change in higher education and mobilizing it as a traumatized education sector and society move toward an uncertain future.
The book has five subsections, the first addressing the various institutional responses to the pandemic. Most learning institutions adopted online learning and virtue administrative services as an alternative. For example, in Canada, over the two weeks in March 2020, after the declaration of Coronavirus as a global pandemic, more than 2.5 million college students shifted to online learning (Raj Kumar et al., 2022, p. 36). However, after conducting a global comparative study, researchers established that countries with strong public and government support fared well in online education. Even so, the physical isolation mandated by the pandemic deepened social divides on race, class, and gender.
Part two discusses the challenges associated with the covid-19 era’s digital transformations. The successful dispensation of knowledge and other services remotely in higher education proved that remote learning is possible on a large scale. However, it was not without several challenges. For example, students from low-income families who depended on university computer labs were disadvantaged since many libraries remained closed. Although most universities provide students with laptops and an internet connection upon request, they do not guarantee that all students will attend virtue classes (Raj Kumar et al., 2022, p. 67). Teaching virtues, such as good citizenship and collaboration on online platforms, proved difficult in the US. A survey of the Indian community and universities also established that students did not find online learning as engaging as in physical classrooms.
Part three analyzes social justice, equity, and university social responsibility. The first article in this part argues that Doctorate education is critical to making visible the norms and values that reproduce inequity and exclusion in society. The second article discusses women’s experiences in higher education during the pandemic. Women professors and students’ physical presence in the house became a proxy for their continuous availability to shoulder household responsibilities. There was little to no distinction between family and work time (Raj Kumar et al., 2022, p. 123).
Part four discusses rethinking performativity, finance, and entrepreneurship.Although the Covid pandemic did not have an economic genesis, the economy of higher education institutions was bound to take a hit. Funding universities has always been a topical issue, with pundits questioning the motive of private financiers. Unless the reason is philanthropy, the private individual may want to cut costs and raise revenue which would be detrimental to the quality of education offered (Raj Kumar et al., 2022, p. 163). Chapter 12 considers the reaction by universities as a response to the performative pressure before the pandemic. Most universities quickly adopted solutions that promoted continuity instead of institutional endurance. Conversely, Chapter 14 discusses making entrepreneurship central to university curricula to unlock the country’s total economic potential.
Part five analyzes the future trajectories of internationalization.Globalization and higher education are interrelated since the former increases demand for the latter (Raj Kumar et al., 2022, p. 199). International education is approximately a $300 billion industry globally, with nearly all institutions of higher learning having exchange students from different parts of the world. The pandemic left international students stranded; they could not go home due to border closures. Some expected to vacate premises with schools closed. A sure way to deal with an uncertain future is to create it. International learning needs to be inclusive, integrative, and imaginative.
The book’s structure is an anthology (a collection of various articles) with journal articles on Covid-19 and higher education arranged chronologically from the start of the pandemic to future projections. The structure is crucial in determining comprehension among students since struggling readers fail to rely on text structure. In contrast, proficient readers actively use text structure to understand the content better (Bogaerds-Hazenberg et al., 2021). The editors did impressive work linking the articles together for the book to sound and flow naturally and communicate effectively to readers. The rationale behind the structure was to have the audience synthesize diverse results on a related topic and expand their perspective.
The arguments were convincing, valid, and supported by current empirical evidence matching other studies. For example, the authors’ view that students from low-income families were at a disadvantage due to virtue learning is similar to the findings of another study on the same topic. According to Ives (2021), first-generation and low-income students have limited access to technologies, such as laptops, which are necessary for online classes. According to Mcelrath (2020), 85% of children from households with an income of $100,000 used online resources for learning. In contrast, only 65.8% of children from families with less than $50,000 could do the same.
Evidence/Research Presented and Its Strength
All chapters in the book presented evidence to support their argument and draw conclusions. The supporting research information was from credible sources or comprised of results from primary studies. For example, to show how career women were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the authors compared the number of journal articles published in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science by women and men. They found that women’s studies were significantly fewer. In contrast, the submission by men in Comparative Political Studies went up by 50% in April 2020 (Raj Kumar et al., 2022, p. 39).
Although most research referenced was from the Indian context, it applies to other parts of the world. For example, one study found that Indian students were not actively engaged in online classes as they would in physical ones. A study in the US found similar results, with only 19% of the respondents being satisfied with the online course (Hollister et al., 2022). 57% reported that maintaining interest and motivation was a constant challenge.
Influence on Other Works, Researchers, and Academicians
As countries recover from Covid-19, it is unlikely that education systems will revert to the previous state before the pandemic. For instance, Zhao and Watterston (2021) argue that changes are necessary. For example, the curriculum should be developmental, personalized, and evolving. This book, including the various expert opinions, will thus guide education stakeholders as they consider which changes to make permanent in the education system.
The book demonstrates the need for change in education systems post-Covid 19 and ways of mobilizing it. Most institutions of higher learning adopted online learning as an alternative to physical learning. Although it achieved continuity, it brought new challenges. For example, students from low-income families did not have the resources to participate in online learning. Further, it eliminated experiential learning sought out by international students. Although Covid 19 put the education system in an uncomfortable position, it provided a platform to evaluate the education sector. The changes aim to make education inclusive and integrative. Its chronological structure, convincing arguments, scholarly evidence, and forward-looking approach thus make it an exciting read for education stakeholders.
Bogaerds-Hazenberg, S. T., Evers-Vermeul, J., & van den Bergh, H. (2021). A meta‐analysis on the effects of text structure instruction on reading comprehension in the upper elementary grades. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(3), 435-462. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rrq.311
Hollister, B., Nair, P., Hill-Lindsay, S., & Chukoskie, L. (2022). Engagement in online learning: Student attitudes and behavior during COVID-19. Frontiers in Education, 7, 851019. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2022.851019
Ives, B. (2021). University students experience the covid-19 induced shift to remote instruction. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 18(1), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-021-00296-5
Mcelrath, K. (2020, August 26). Nearly 93% of households with school-age children report some form of distance learning during COVID-19. U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/08/schooling-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.html
Raj Kumar, C., Mukherjee, M., Belousova, T., & Nair, N. (2022). Global higher education during and beyond covid-19: Perspectives and challenges. Springer.
Romeo, M., Yepes-Baldó, M., Soria, M. Á., & Jayme, M. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education: Characterizing the psychosocial context of the positive and negative affective states using classification and regression trees. Frontiers in Psychology, 12(714397), 1-25. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.714397
Zhao, Y., & Watterston, J. (2021). The changes we need: Education post COVID-19. Journal of Educational Change, 22(1), 3-12. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-021-09417-3