By Ben Hudson
2020 has been a year of global crises. In the early months, Brexit, forced migration and climate change all vied for dominance of the news streams. As global, civic institutions, these crises all impact universities in one way or another. Yet, none come close to the impact that COVID-19 is presently having on higher education and the very ways in which we learn and study. The global pandemic strikes at the heart of the higher education business model in a way that not even Brexit can. Particularly salient is the heavy dependence on international fee-paying students and the related vulnerability to shifts in this recruitment market.
At this time, leadership is key. This research project gathers first insights into academic leadership in times of a global pandemic. Its precise focus is on higher education leaders themselves and how they have (both consciously and subconsciously) approached their roles as academic leaders during this tumultuous and unsettling time. This research project pushes the existing research base further through its examination of COVID-19, and pandemics in general, which, perhaps now surprisingly, have been given limited attention in the literature to date.