COVID-19 Survey – Student Prospects and the Modern Education Landscape

Claudia Reiners
April 20, 2020

COVID-19 Survey – Student Prospects and the Modern Education Landscape

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

Despite dramatic shifts to online learning, school closures and a total reshaping of the education sector as a result of the impacts of COVID-19, the urgency to study has shown no signs of slowing down.

As we get settled into this ‘new normal’, it is crucial to evaluate exactly how student prospects are reacting to this unique circumstance, and what this means for education providers in both the short and long-term.

To do this, we conducted a survey across our brands that explores what kind of impact COVID-19 has had on the education industry.

We wanted to share our findings, to:

  • Showcase why student prospects could be looking towards study in this current climate
  • Demonstrate the increasing popularity of online learning amidst the crisis
  • Explore what kind of subject areas are currently the most sought after and why

We have compiled some of the most interesting survey results, along with insights what these responses mean for the education industry.

Q. Why has coronavirus COVID-19 made you more likely to begin a training course?

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According to our survey data, it is evident that motivation to study has shifted as a result of COVID-19.

With ‘more time available’, ‘wanting to remain productive’, and ‘the need to upskill’ as the leading responses, these answers combined demonstrate how changing circumstances have steered people towards education.

As lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic have become more strict, thousands of Aussies are finding themselves with more time than they once had.

Whether that be a result of the loss of jobs, moving from full-time to part-time work, or simply not having to spend two hours commuting each working day, there is more incentive to use this time in an efficient manner.

This could suggest an increase in short or micro-credential style courses, as these courses are the ones known to be delivered entirely online and are a qualification built to meet industry-specific needs, while also helping to refresh existing knowledge.

This is further reaffirmed by the Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework report in October 2019 and the VET Reform Roadmap, which has suggested the need for a formal framework for these credential-style courses.

These “short and flexible online courses” are valuable both in isolation, but can also be “stacked into more substantial qualifications such as degrees”, making them very desirable in this current climate.

Q. Before the crisis, which study method was most desirable for you?

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Q. Given the situation, is online learning now a more desirable method of study compared to last year?

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Interestingly, online study was a preferred method even pre-Coronavirus, with 50.7% opting for ‘online study’ over ‘blended learning’ and ‘in-class study’.

It is also evident that as a result of the current situation, the majority of students now find online learning even more of a desirable method, particularly when compared to last year.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has impacted all tiers of the education sector and has prompted the necessary shift to online classes and virtual teaching.

This seems like only the beginning for technological advancements in the delivery of education, as COVID-19 becomes the catalyst for education systems and providers to begin their search for innovative solutions, alongside its lasting impact on the “trajectory of learning innovation and digitisation”.

Q. What can our training providers do to make you more confident to enrol in a course?

New initiatives providing people with the opportunity to re-skill and advance their careers, by making courses more accessible, are welcome across the board. This was indicated by favoured responses to this question such as ‘flexible payment options’, as well as ‘ensuring the online delivery of all courses.’

It is also encouraging to see some of the states, territories and national government committing towards upskilling our population during these times, such as helping finance university short courses.

Financial uncertainty is an influential factor for prospective students in this strange time, so it is important for governments to put their support behind training initiatives. It’s also crucial that education providers adapt to changing student needs and behaviours.

Q. If you had to stay home, which subject-area would you be most interested in studying?

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When assessing the most desirable industry area to study, the ‘Community Services’ industry is the clear winner at 25.6%.

The above results also align with the industry areas recently announced ‘Higher Education Relief Package’, which are:

  • Teaching
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Foreign Languages
  • Agriculture
  • Environmental Studies
  • Allied Health
  • Other Health
  • Information Technology
  • Architecture and Building
  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Agriculture

These ‘national priority targets’ are all to be delivered entirely online, and will be “short and focused six-month courses”, with an aim to assist the unemployed gain new skills while in isolation.

It makes sense that people are looking to do some form of study or upskilling during this period. I believe our role is to look at facilitating funding opportunities that are available to connect the student with the educator, and empower as many learners as possible. I believe that is really important and I’m excited to see us playing a really strong role there.

COVID-19 is completely reshaping our education system via remote learning.

With this comes a great opportunity for education providers and the like to reinvent learning, meet the student needs of this current climate and help to shape a modern education landscape.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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