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Understanding the student voice in the context of the global pandemic

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COVID-19 Response Barometer

The COVID-19 Response Barometer has been borne out of necessity – the necessity for Higher Education Institutions to hear and understand the student voice during the pandemic, and the necessity to understand that student voice in the context of a global comparison. Here we look at how the survey has been received and the aspirations of those institutions that are sharing the survey with their student population.

i-graduate has built its reputation on recognising the importance of the student voice, and against the backdrop of the global pandemic, quickly devised a free-of-charge survey for higher education institutions to capture their students’ perceptions of the institution’s response to COVID-19.

As the whole education sector was thrown into turmoil in such a short space of time, decisions were being made quickly to keep operations as stable as possible. With so little time available to reflect, there was a danger those student views and voices would not be heard, so the COVID-19 Response Barometer was quickly devised and rolled-out globally.

And in the absence of a typical consultation period between students and staff, and institutions and governments, dissemination of the survey took many forms; for example, the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education shared the information and process with all higher education institutions in Malaysia – governments and associations naturally want to know how their institutions are doing, and how that compares across the different benchmarks globally.

Covid-19 Response Barometer

The survey itself brings to the surface student perceptions around communications, the often rapidly formed online delivery; their worries or concerns as the situation quickly evolves. It helps institutions answer the questions,

  • “How has our response to COVID-19 been received by our students?”
  • “How are we performing compared to other institutions?”
  • "Is there a difference between the experiences of our domestic and international students?”
  • “Is any part of our student population not receiving adequate communications?"
  • "How satisfied are students with the information being provided?"

Those institutions that have engaged to date have, in some cases, inevitably already run their own surveys – it was natural that they should have posed questions to their student populations – but they have seen value in the COVID-19 Response Barometer survey, particularly i-graduate’s ability to anonymously benchmark the results globally, and where requested, at a national level. And with it being a short survey, less than five minutes to complete, it is not being seen as an additional burden on students’ time. Users have also commented positively on the fact that i-graduate is able to also manage the entire survey on behalf of their institution, and report back via a live dashboard. At a time when resources are stretched in unexpected ways, it’s no surprise that institutions are more than happy to simply use the i-graduate-supplied survey launch pack to be up and running with their institution-specific survey, and let us do the rest.

So far, 42 institutions in 12 countries have signed-up to the COVID-19 Response Barometer, with over 12,000 student completions already. Early results reveal some interesting data, but also indicate institutions have work to do, specifically around the communication of the organisation of tests/exams, the area of communication students are least satisfied with.

Institutions continue to sign-up and launch their survey as they look to inform their communications and operations, and seek to cover all eventualities in a much-changed, and still moving, landscape.

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