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COVID-19: Higher Education challenges and responses

The International Association of Universities continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation globally.

The Second Global Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education recently came to a close. Several universities and other higher education institutions participated in this initiative to help drive positive change in the field. We are now in the process of analysing and evaluating the responses and look forward to sharing the Survey findings later this year.

Below are resources pages compiled by IAU, offering information about latest developments regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on universities, recommendations and initiatives, opportunities to engage or exchange, and a selection of recent country-based and international news items on the subject.

IAU has published two reports on the impact of COVID-19:

IAU also published a joint paper in collaboration with the Erasmus Student Network on COVID-19 Impact on Higher Education: Institutional and Students Perspectives.

HEIs and organisations from around the world engaged in developing responses to COVID-19 are invited to share these through this channel as well.
Contact: [email protected].

Follow us on Twitter @IAU_IAU and tweet about your institution/organization’s initiatives to fight COVID-19 using: #IAUcovid19


On this page, please find some of the recommendations for higher education institutions to carry on with teaching and learning activities during this socio-economic, cultural and health crisis and also on how to address the future.




In this tab you will find information on how organizations monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the higher education community. A selection of survey reports on the impact of COVID-19 is also presented.




The IAU survey report on the impact of Covid-19 on higher education showed that one of the key challenges encountered by higher education institutions was the sudden shift to distance learning. This challenge comes with different dimensions, most particularly the technical infrastructure, the support tools to use for distance learning, assimilating online teaching pedagogies and finally how to organize and manage exams and student assessments from distance. IAU has made a selection of useful resources in order to respond to these challenges.




This tab contains a selection of recent news on actions taken around the globe to respond to the current health crisis.


- UNESCO held a GEM meeting on 13 July
From recovery to accelerating SDG 4 progress: 2021 Global Education Meeting - Ministerial Segment

- UN High-Level Political Forum on "Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development". IAU is actively participating in side events (July, 2021)

- A time for innovation in international HE post COVID-19 (February, 2021).

- Mental scars caused by on-campus teaching in pandemic may not heal (February, 2021).

Unión de Universidades de América Latina y el Caribe (UDUAL):
Union of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL) presented number 14 of the Cuadernos de Universidades collection, entitled “Universidades en Pandemia”, a collection of articles addressing the different ways in which universities from the region dealt with the pandemic.


Select region of interest: Africa - Arab States - Asia and the Pacific - Europe - Latin America - North America

- Africa

International students stranded online (February, 2021).

- Arab States

- Asia and the Pacific

Asian Development Bank published the note COVID-19 and Education in Asia and the Pacific. It provides guidance to help developing countries address the disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic but also identifies critical policy reforms and concrete actions - framed as the three Rs - Response, Recovery, and Rejuvenation (January, 2021).

- Department of Education, Skills and Employment of Australia/Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education
Sessions recordings of the five-part webinar series “Australia-Malaysia webinar series: Education & Research in the COVID-19 Era” - hosted 23-25 August 2021 - are now online. Topics addressed included: quality assurance in online education; assessment evaluation and integrity in online education; teaching VET online during COVID-19; research collaborations during COVID-19 pandemic; Professional Development and Employability in the Post-COVID-19 Era.

Private universities losing money ‘hand over fist’ (February, 2021).

- Europe

Universities look to EU’s €800B COVID-19 recovery fund to upgrade campuses

- Latin America

- North America

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This tab contains information on calls for application and webinars to support and learn how universities are addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic.


The International Association of Universities, in collaboration with several partners and Members, is pleased to offer a series of free webinars on the Future of Higher Education.


- Association of Arab Universities and Gulf Conferences
Digital transformation of the higher education sector in the time of COVID is one of the themes to be addressed at the “Middle East Education Thought Leadership Forum” organized virtually, on 25-27 October 2021 by the Association of Arab Universities and Gulf Conferences. (September 2021)

- Contact North, Tuesday, September 21, 2021 11:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. (Eastern Time): The Spark of Online Learning: How Technology and Emotion Science Invigorates Every Class.


Unión de Universidades de América Latina y el Caribe (UDUAL)
A call for participation has been launched for the UDUAL’s “Science and Innovation in the Fight against COVID-19” Award in recognition of the Higher Education Institutions that have contributed to face this critical social and health situation, Deadline for proposals: December 15, 2021.

International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) has launched the OER4Covid initiative which comprises a diverse group of almost 900 participants from 69 different countries. They are requesting help from educators to identify and prioritise local needs for open educational resources. To access the survey, please follow the link.

Institute of Applied Linguistics (University of Warsaw) invites to take part in a research investigating how language and linguistics teachers/instructors and students/learners have been coping with the transition to remote instruction. The survey is anonymous and will solely serve scientific purposes. It should take no more than 25-38 minutes to complete; around 85% of the questions are of the quick multiple-choice type.

There are different versions of the questionnaire:

for Language Teachers
for Linguistics Instructors and TAs
for Language Learners
for Linguistics Students
for Educators in subjects other than language

QS Quacquarelli Symonds invites to take part in a new survey for university staff as part of its commitment to providing the higher education sector with data-driven insights. To access the survey please follow this link.


Recordings and presentations from IAU’s webinars are available here.
May 3, 2021 Economic and Social Council: Partnership Forum, 2021 session

Theme: Partnership as a game changer for a sustainable recovery from COVID-19.

Offered by UN Economic and Social Council: Partnership Forum
See video

February 22, 2021: Access and Equity: what have we learnt from the pandemic and what should we be doing about it?

Offered by Magna Charta Observatory

January 18, 2021: Adapting to the New Reality – The Public Purpose of Universities in a Post-Covid19 World

Offered by Open Society University Network – Talloires Network Educational Partnership

December 7, 2020: The what, the how and the why of the pandemic

Offered by International Sciences Council

September 25, 2020: What happened during the Corona crisis?

Offered by Nordic Webinar Series


September 18, 2020: What are we learning from Covid 19?

Offered by Magna Charta Observatory

August 18 and 19, 2020: Impact of COVID-19 on Education

Offered by the RUDECOLOMBIA Doctorate in Educational Sciences of the University of Cartagena, Colombia.


August 18, 2020: Strategies and actions for returning to academic activities (Estrategias y acciones para el regreso a las actividades académicas)

Offered by UDUAL.

August 11, 2020: Choosing a Technology that Makes a Difference to Learning - Getting Past the Hype

Offered by Contact North/Contact Nord


July 20, 2020: Building Anti-Surveillance Ed-Tech! In Conversation with Audrey Watters

Offered by Contact North/Contact Nord.


July 14, 2020: Help your Students Succeed in Their Online Courses


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