Universities should be ready to face challenges posed by Covid-19: QU president
September 16 2020 10:40 PM
Dr Hassan al-Derham
Dr Hassan al-Derham

Universities of the future should be ‘resilient and agile’ to face the challenges posed by Covid-19, as the pandemic brings a number of challenges as well as opportunities, a top Qatari academic told an online panel discussion on Wednesday.

"The future of higher education will depend if the present crisis is a single one or a series of waves. There are several academic challenges. Our campuses could be online campuses or blended leaning campuses,” said Dr Hassan Rashid al-Derham, president of Qatar University.

He was speaking at the latest edition of Qatar Foundation’s Education City Speaker Series. Organised in partnership with Education Above All and Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Education, the event also featured several education experts from around the world.

Dr al-Derham highlighted that Covid-19 has caused several drastic changes and the role of Information technology will be very dominant in the coming times. “Data gathering and analysis will be more important and at the same time more problematic. Data gathering will be through devices such as mobiles and it will involve questions about privacy and data security,” he continued.

QU president also said that student experience will be another major challenge in the higher education scenario. “Financial security for higher studies will be a major issue due to the prevailing situation of Covid-19. Many families are facing financial difficulties due to loss of jobs as well as unemployment. With the governments focusing more fighting the pandemic, there is growing financial pressure on governments. With lesser income, students will find it difficult to enter universities for higher studies This could lead to the closure several campuses. There are reports that in the US alone, about 100 campuses are going to be closed,” noted Dr al-Derham.

The academic also maintained that there will be a shift in the programmes that the students will follow in the coming years.

“We will see great shift in the majors followed at universities. Students will shift to subjects related to Covid-19 and its aftermath. Technology also will change with video conferencing as well as tele-medicine among others.

Telepresence, campus automation virtual world among others will be the new norms. Waves of changes are taking place in a much shorter period. All these bring the challenges whether our campuses are accessible to these or there are limitations for our campuses and universities must be ready to adapt to the changing realities and meet the challenges quickly,” added the official.

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