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Impact of Covid19 on Higher Education


Earlier, in March, The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the ongoing corona virus spread as a Global Pandemic. This outbreak has caused the regular life to a standstill as everyone is going through their own share of struggle regardless of their age, gender, income, country etc though no doubt some might be privileged more than the other. And there is no denial of the fact that corona virus has significantly affected every aspect of our society from business sector to the education system.
This blog briefly discusses how the Corona virus Outbreak has affected the education system, especially in India.


Education is considered very important for an individual to grow as a person and develop various skills and experience. However, due to the pandemic, students across the world are facing problems getting a proper learning experience. According to UNESCO Report, about 18 % of the enrolled learners are still affected due to the temporary closure of schools and universities worldwide.

The academic institutions had to switch teaching mode from the traditional way to online learning so as not to interrupt a student’s learning. At that time, platforms like Google Meets, Zoom Meetings, Microsoft Teams, came to the rescue.

On October 20 – 22, UNESCO organized a Global Education Meeting in light of the impact of the Socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many head of States, various ministers and leaders from across the UN system and civil society were present, all calling for a renewed commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goal Four (SDG 4), emphasizing the need to invest in inclusive and equitable lifelong learning and enhancing global education cooperation. 

The universities are providing immense help with scientific responses to COVID-19, from clinical and vaccine studies, epidemiology and public health to behavioral and social sciences; and essential to informing national policy making and media coverage.
The pandemic has also shown the higher education’s critical contribution to wider sustainable development through its unique combination of teaching, research and social engagements.


According to a survey conducted on higher education, by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), under Government of India, it was observed that there are 993 universities, 39931 Colleges and 10725 autonomous institutions listed on their portal, which contribute to education[1]. And as per UNESCO, around 32 crores college students are affected in India due to the pandemic.

After the central government declared a nationwide lockdown of schools and universities in order to control the spread of the virus, all educational activities like classes and examinations ceased. Also examination boards like CBSE had to postpone their remaining papers as the board examinations of the Grade 10 and 12 were ongoing.

Many competitive entrance exams like CLAT, NEET, etc also had to be postponed which are different ways to get admitted to prestigious professional academic institutions, causing heavy amount of stress to the aspirants. Admissions were delayed which has severely affected the current academic session, although several institutions held their orientation programmes via e-conferencing tools like Google Meet, Skype, YouTube live, Face book live, WebEx etc. for the students.

A number of Indian students, who were studying in Universities abroad, had to leave those nations and return to India. It’s been speculated that there will be a decrease in the interest for worldwide advanced education which will be a good impact as India is the second -largest source of international students in the world. It will be a great opportunity for India to enhance its capacities and provide quality education at par with global standards.

But the biggest issue was how to continue the learning process of teaching while students and faculties could no longer be physically present on campuses. India being not advanced in technology and due to lack of good internet facilities in many areas, universities couldn’t facilitate e-learning.

However, the response by Higher Educational Institutions was commendable as they adapted various strategies to face this crisis. The union government has also undertaken a number of measures to prevent spread of the virus. The MHRD and the University Grants Commission (UGC) have made numerous arrangements by launching a variety of virtual platforms with online depositories, e-books and other online teaching/learning resources, educational outlets via Direct to Home TV and radio stations for students to continue learning.

During the lockdown, social media platforms like WhatsApp, Zoom, Google meet, YouTube live, Facebook live etc. were used as online teaching learning system. ICT initiative of MHRD (E-Broucher[2]) is also a great platform that combines all digital resources for online learning[3].


  • It encouraged the educational communities to adopt virtual learning as a mode of teaching.
  •  The teachers, students and their families were further encouraged to be more technology savvy which increased the digital literacy level. 
  • As there was surge in demand for learning management systems by the institutions, it provided opportunities for the companies developing the same. 
  • It helped the educators and learners to various opportunities where they could interact with their peers from worldwide. 
  • More opportunities for virtual internships arose which helped learners to enhance their skills and gain practical knowledge in their respective professions. 
  • The pandemic might help in restructuring of the fee structure and the development of more cost-effective programmes. 


  • The closure of schools and universities not only affected the students and teachers but also had economical and societal consequences. Issues like student debt, digital learning disability, housing, food security, access to internet etc came into light. However, it was harder for the disadvantaged children and their families. This has caused a gap to develop between the students due to disparity in socio- economic backgrounds.
  • Institutions and students in the rural areas are facing issues with remote learning due to the unavailability of good internet facilities. 
  • There was also a negative impact on the academic integrity throughout the world. Students found it easier to cheat while giving exams as there is no proper provision for invigilation. Although many schools and universities turned to commercial services for e-proctoring, it only led to another issue regarding privacy of the students. 
  • Mental health of the students has been getting affected as depression, anxiety, stress level is increasing at a concerning rate among the student community. 
  • Employment opportunities continue to be of concern as it has been predicted that unemployment rate might see a rise. 


COVID – 19 has brought so much change in the human civilization. And there is no doubt that the effects will still be felt for a long time, even post covid-19. Some of those effects might be good while some may be bad. The following are some new trends that will open a new path and change the structure of education system; 

  • It may lead to a more personalized way of learning where the teaching style is as per the respective student’s need and requirement.
  • The demand for Home-schooling might increase. 
  • Students and guardians might prefer to remain and study in the country instead of studying in foreign universities. 
  • Learning with the help of technology will be more preferable and encouraged. 
  • The use of artificial intelligence in academics might increase. It will help to lessen the burden upon the educators. 
  • Demand for distance learning will increase. 
  • Student debt and unemployment might see a rise. 


The ongoing COVID – 19 pandemic is an unexpected event that shocked and immobilized the entire world. Its impact was or is still being felt in all aspects of our life. One of the most severely affected sectors is education, especially higher education. Students across the world suffered the burnout that was brought by this pandemic. However, many strategies are being planned to curb the burden on the educators and students, and give them opportunities so that they are able to enhance their skills and knowledge which will further help in their prospective career and future.

[1] DNS Kumar, “Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education” ( 29 April 2020), <https://www.highereducationdigest.com/impact-of-covid-19-on-higher-education/>
[2] ICT Initiatives, < https://mhrd.gov.in/ict-initiatives >
[3] Pravat Kumar Jena, “Challenges and Opportunities created by Covid-19 for ODL: A case study of IGNOU”, International Journal for Innovative Research in Multidisciplinary. 

Author: Shruti Sudha Samantaray, University Law College, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

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