Elkana Center's colleagues contribute to multi-national study on The Role of European Universities in an Age of Pandemic

February 6, 2023

Elkana Fellow and DSPS doctoral student Omar Abozeid, Elkana Center Senior Manager Pușa Năstase, and colleagues from peer institutions have recently published a large, multi-national study, entitled The Role of European Universities in an Age of Pandemic. The study tackles the complex questions of how the pandemic and a shifting global context shape social and regional integration in Europe and its possible futures.

Drawing on research from eight countries, the study analyzes trends in precarity, gender representation, knowledge creation, access for refugees and other underrepresented groups, changing relationships between administration and academic staff, metrification and trust, and internationalization.

Among other results, it finds that, grosso modo, the pandemic exacerbated the precarious financial and social situation of many students and in particular of the international students. In countries like Hungary, where the internationalisation of higher education was pursued as a matter of state policy in the years before the pandemic, the support of international students was shown to be rather fragile (with some notable exceptions). The report also discusses the duty of care towards students including international students, as highlighted by the pandemic. Additionally, it identifies other categories vulnerable in the pandemic (faculty, staff and students with caregiving responsibilities, faculty in precarious work relations, young academics) and the effect on some of these categories (for instance the decreased research output of young female academics). In contrast, changes have been more muted or multidirectional in the areas of trust relations between staff, faculty and management.

At a macro level researchers revealed higher education systems in turmoil in most of the countries included in the study, due to political struggles and attempts to limit university autonomy (Hungary), financial reform of higher education (France) or systemic dysfunctionalities (UK, Ireland) and the intersection between previous conditions and the pandemic made those already affected even more vulnerable. The report also raises questions about the sustainability of an internationalised higher education and highlights the de-internationalisation tendencies brought about by the pandemic.

Read the full text of the study, made available courtesy of the publisher, the Center for Higher Education Futures of the Danish School of Education at the University Of Aarhus.