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Pandemic Study

The Effects of the Pandemic on European Higher Education

Participants from ten countries have engaged in a collaborative study of the ways the pandemic has impacted on universities and higher education in Europe. The aims are to publish the academic analysis and discuss the results with students, support staff, academics and university leaders and with national and international policy makers.


Overarching themes

Initial inquiries by the ten country teams highlighted three overarching themes:

  1. The sustainability of higher education systems
  2. The ways society has discussed the purposes of higher education institutions
  3. How higher education institutions have reacted and changed during the pandemic



  • Denmark: Sue Wright, 1-2 MA students
  • Finland: Taina Saarinen
  • France: Dorota Dakowska, Josef Kavka, Nécati Mert Gumus, Clémence Albert-Lebrun    
  • Germany: Tim Seidenschnur, Pedro Pineda
  • Hungary: Pusa Nastase, Zsuzsanna Géring, Gábor Andrási; Eszter Szendrei-Pál; Gergely Kováts
  • Ireland: Andrew Gibson, Ellen Hazelkorn
  • Norway: Jens Jungblut
  • Poland: Krystian Szadkowski, Jakub Krzeski, Franek Krawczyk
  • Portugal: Amélia Veiga, António Magalhães, José Pedro Amorim
  • UK: Ludovic Highman, Miguel Lim, Graeme Slater, QueAnh Dang


Research instruments

The ten country teams have engaged in a collective process of designing the research instruments. These consist of:

  1. Background information on the size, structure and governance of the sector in each country. A template was created by Krystian Szadkowski (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland) using available statistics and elaborated by each of the country teams. This provides one basis for comparative analysis of the data to be collected by interview surveys.
  2. An Interview Schedule, covering the three themes above (involving approx. 15 interviews and the option of a media survey) and a Sampling Strategy have been constructed through a series of Zoom meetings between the ten country teams and through document sharing. This work has been coordinated by Amelia Veiga, (University of Porto Portugal) and Tim Seidenschnur (University of Kassel, Germany). The schedule and the strategy are designed to create comparability, whilst also being adaptable to the situation in each country.


Research Process

  1. In each country, a senior researcher has assembled a research team out of their own resources (typically 1-2 senior researchers and 1-2 PhD students).
  2. Each country team will conduct the research during Spring 2021 and analyse the research (using a template that is in development).
  3. Each country team produces a country report by May 2021 and shares it with the other country teams.
  4. A workshop/PhD course in June 2021 (at DPU or on Zoom) will discuss results of all the country studies, identify emerging issues and plan publications.
  5. Publications will be written during summer 2021 and include
    • A working paper containing the country studies and an introduction highlighting and comparing the cross-cutting issues that have emerged from the country studies. This will be published in the CHEF working paper series.
    • A special issue of the journal Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences (LATISS), which will have an overall introduction and 4-5 articles jointly written by members of 2-3 country teams on specific issues across the country studies.
  6. A session at the ‘European Universities – Critical Futures’ conference at DPU on 14-16 December 2021 will highlight the results of the study and engage in dialogue with students, support staff, academics and university leaders, along with national and European policy makers on the impact of the pandemic on universities and implications for the future.