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The current Conference time is: 14th Aug 2022, 10:56:32pm CEST

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Parallel session - E.3.1 Covid-19 And The Institutional Fabric Of Higher Education: Accelerating Old Patterns, Imposing New Dynamics, And Changing Rules?
Wednesday, 02/June/2021:
12:00pm - 2:15pm

Session Chair: Romulo Pinheiro
Session Chair: Elizabeth Balbachevsky
Session Chair: Pundy Pillay
Session Chair: Akiyoshi Yonezawa
Location: Room 6

Session Panels:
E.3. Covid-19 and the Institutional Fabric of Higher Education: Accelerating Old Patterns, Imposing New Dynamics, and Changing Rules?

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Terhi Nokkala, Melina Aarnikoivu, Taina Saarinen

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

The research problem:

This paper explores how academics construe their relationship with their work and their university. Moreover, it illuminates how those relationships changed during the first year of the pandemic. We specifically highlight how academics’ relationships with their universities were, on the one hand, marked by disillusionment, frustration, and conflict, and on the other hand seen as “caring for people”. Our wider aim is to reassess the nature of academic work and the long-term relationship between academics and their organisations.

The study design:

The data consist of four rounds of semi-structured group interviews with three groups of academics based in Europe or North America. The first group consisted of four early-career academics, the second group of three senior academics, and the final group was a mixture of both early-career and senior researchers. The members of the two first groups did not know each other before the interviews, whereas the members of the third group did. We, the three authors of this study, also participated in the group discussions.

We conducted the first round of interviews in April 2020, the second in May 2020, and the third in June 2020. Once it became obvious the pandemic was not subsiding by autumn 2020, we conducted another interview round in the turn of 2020/2021, strengthening the longitudinal nature of our data. In addition to the four interview rounds, we, the authors of this study, met 11 times before, in between, and after the interview rounds to reflect on the interviews, thus combining elements of reflexive team ethnography (Creese, Taur & Blackledge 2016) in the study. All the interviews and planning meetings took place via Zoom, and they were recorded and transcribed. We are currently employing qualitative content analysis (Mayring 2000) to deductively analyse the data for our key theoretical concepts.

The conceptual approach:

The proposed paper analyses micro-level (individual) responses to meso-level (institutional) practices. While our original approach was data driven, in this chapter we draw from the concepts of immediate, responsive, and adaptive pandemic practices (Werron & Ringel, 2020) to investigate the immediate and potential long-term changes taking place in universities. Additionally, we utilise the notion of academic psychological contract (Shen, 2010) to analyse the micro-level constituents of academics’ relationships with their work and their university. The chosen conceptual framework enables us to analyse the temporal fluctuation of the academics’ perceptions over the pandemic year, taking into account their career stage and physical location.

Covered levels of analysis:

The primary focus of the paper is on the micro-level developments during the first year of the pandemic, taking into account the structural conditions of different higher education systems and the ways in which their human resources policies are perceived by individuals during the pandemic (c.f. Blackmore, 2020; Marginson, 2020). The unique, longitudinal qualitative interview data allows us to problematize different receptions of pandemic measures in different academic contexts and career stages.


Marcelo Alberto Rabossi1, Ariadna Laura Guaglianone2, Alex Markman1

1Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Argentine Republic; 2Universidad Abierta Interamericana, Argentine Republic

The arrival of COVID-19 in early 2020 imposed a series of unprecedented challenges to higher education institutions around the world. Teaching and research had to be adapted to the new reality of social distancing and lockdowns. Although the adaptation was mostly successful and managed professionally, the administrative challenges caused by closed borders and semi-frozen economies posed innumerable demands to those systems highly dependent on international students. The interruption of face-to-face classes and flight cancellations paralyzed mobilities and stranded students, researchers, and professors away from home, often in situations of financial and emotional distress.

The university system in Argentina has slightly over 2 million students (21% in the private sector) and 132 universities and university institutes (61 state-run, 65 privately-owned, and 6 provincial ones). In relative terms, the non-public sector is small in comparison to others in the region such as those of Brazil, Chile and Colombia, where more than 50% of students attend private institutions. Under the logic of a model of higher education where the public sector shows its supremacy, at least when it comes to the demand of post-secondary education, the level of internationalization of the University in Argentina over recent years has witnessed a considerable increase. This inbound mobility has made the country a net exporter of higher education services. However, it is worth noting that in relation to the USA, UK and Australia, which are among the largest players in terms of their capacity to attract non-local students, Argentina still has a long way to go. In 2018, almost 90,000 foreign students were enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. This number represents 4% of all enrollees, percentage which is more or less aligned with the degree of internationalization found in the main systems of the region and the world. Most of the incoming international students come from the Americas (95%), while a very small portion is from Europe (4%) and there is virtually no incidence from the rest of the world. In this sense, and following a trend common in all of Latin America, the system reproduces itself under an endogamic pattern of development.

The purpose of this research is to analyze how universities in Argentina reacted to the pandemic and how the work done by the International Relations Offices was adapted in response to the novel restrictions in global mobility. To contrast theory and evidence, some of the principles defined by contingency and organizational adaptation theory (Aldrich, 1979; Hrebiniak & Joyce, 1985; Hannan & Friedman, 1989; Kaplan, 2008) will be used as the formal framework. Special focus will be placed on an intersectoral perspective on the behaviors taken on by public and private universities. In order to do this, a series of interviews with key actors at different public and private universities will be conducted. The objective will be to evaluate the institutional capacity and reactions of these entities to adapt to a new reality, both in organizational and financial terms. A representative sample will include small and large universities with different levels of internationalization.


Espen Solberg1, Cathrine Edelhard Tømte2

1NIFU-Nordisk institutt for studier innen innovasjon, forskning og utdanning, Norge; 2Universitetet i Agder

The Norwegian government has played an active role in promoting digital transformation of higher education institutions (HEI. HEIs, on their side, have launched institutional digitalisation strategies or added IT / ICT perspectives in their overall strategies and plans. Despite this strategic awareness, studies have demonstrated that there might be a mismatch between national ambitions and the take-up of digital technology in teaching and learning practices (Fossland & Tømte, 2020).
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “game-changer” for the uptake of digital teaching practices in Norwegian higher education. Our survey data shows that the share of staff with no experience in digital teaching went from 64 per cent before in March 2020 to 6 per cent in fall 2020. A similar shift is reported in students’ response to the same question.
Technology use in higher education implies several modes and tempus of teaching and learning. During the last year, emergency remote teaching has emerged, and which differs from traditional online and campus-based classroom teaching, but with some characteristics from both strands (Hodges et al, 2020; Morales et al, 2021).
We will explore the nature of the digital transformation of teaching and learning in Norwegian HEIs during the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, we will focus on i) the efforts undertaken by academic staff when switching to online teaching, ii) the learning sources and strategies used to acquire new technical and pedagogical skills and iii) the perceived quality of online teaching reported by academic staff and students during the same period.
The analysis will be based on data stemming from two recent and concurrent surveys on the consequences of the Covid 19 pandemic for Norwegian HEIs. The student survey included 22 000 students (43% response rate) and the academic staff survey included 4000 answers (51% response rate). Both encompass all HEI institutions in Norway and include a large set of parallel questions to students and academic staff.
The theoretical framing will draw on two strands: The analyses of learning sources and strategies will relate to recent theories of workplace learning (Lorenz and Lundvall et al, 2016), while instruments to understand higher education institutions’ capabilities and readiness to undergo digital transformation will draw on Digital maturity models and frameworks.

Fossland T., Tømte C.E. (2020) Technology as Quality Work? Educational Leaders and Teachers’ Use of Digital Technology. In: Elken M., Maassen P., Nerland M., Prøitz T., Stensaker B., Vabø A. (eds) Quality Work in Higher Education. Higher Education Dynamics, vol 54. Springer
García-Morales VJ, Garrido-Moreno A and Martín-Rojas R (2021) The Transformation of Higher Education After the COVID Disruption, Emerging Challenges in an Online Learning Scenario. Front. Psychol. 12:616059.
Hodges, C; Moore S; Trust, T. and Bond, A. (2020) The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning, EDUCAUSE Review, 2020
Lorenz, E., Lundvall B-Å, Kraemer-Mbula, E and Rasmussen P., (2016) Work Organisation, Forms of Employee Learning and National Systems of Education and Training, European Journal of Education, Research Development and Policy, Wiley Online Library, 2016

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