At the outset of this Creating Socially Distanced Campuses and Education Project we identified the next big question for higher education institutions as “When we open our campuses, HOW are we going to do that?” This Leadership Intelligence Report extends this question to “When we open our campuses, how are we going to do that while sustaining a clear focus on quality and good practice?”
This is particularly challenging, given the HE sector is currently having to look in two directions at once. Behind us, taking the UK as an example, is the unfinished 2019-20 academic year, which saw a virtually instantaneous cessation of all activities and the need for emergency planning to conclude teaching and implement alternative assessments for finalists and continuing students. In front is the 2020-21 academic year/session, in which everything will be different, from how we move around buildings we may or may not be able to access, to online teaching, learning and assessment for subjects where close physical contact was previously seen as essential (proximal pedagogies).
We are having to make unexpected and almost unimaginable changes to how we do things, both in terms of perturbations to procedures and practices we took for granted and the speed at which these have had to be made. Furthermore, planning for these differences is compounded by uncertainty; will there be a second (or third or fourth) wave of the pandemic? what guidance and legislation will be introduced? will prospective home and international students actually come and will returning students return?
Thus, not only is there unprecedented uncertainty, but our resources are split between looking backwards and forward, with huge implications for staff time, workloads and wellbeing. Despite these demands, quality and good practice must stay in focus and underlie everything we do. This report focuses on quality issues, sharing information, intelligence and inspiration developed through collaborative enquiry.