COVID-19 Special Section: Introduction. Targeted reflection, mutual understanding, and collaborative working. Building blocks for post‑pandemic models in higher education
This introduction to the COVID-19 Special Section highlights the importance for targeted reflection on pandemic experiences, mutual understanding of perspectives and best practice sharing by and across stakeholder groups. Higher education, similar to other global sectors, has been profoundly shaken by the realities brought about since March 2020, and different stakeholders have felt the impact and consequences of the pandemic on a daily basis. Reports of challenges go a long way towards enabling understanding; however, unless these are combined with demonstrations of responses in context and analyses of their effectiveness, they remain at the level of awareness and cannot move towards action. Sharing the lessons learned, alerting to specificities and gaining perspectives have never been more timely, as higher education shapes future models for enhanced stakeholder experiences within increased quality parameters. Notwithstanding the disruptive effect on societies, COVID-19 must also be recognised as an accelerator for higher education, impacting digitalisation, accessibility and creating opportunities for new approaches to educational delivery and collaboration. The papers in this Special Section cover a variety of contexts, moving swiftly from Spain to Poland to the United States of America, India and Iran to return to Europe, i.e. Slovenia. Authors tackle specific challenges experienced by stakeholders, be they students, teaching and administrative staff, researchers or policy makers, and discuss lessons learned, highlight perceived benefits and recommend how these may be translated into policy and practice.
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