The human cost of the coronavirus crisis has been devastating, with almost 400,000 deaths reported worldwide to date. The economic impact is also substantial and with each passing day, it becomes clearer that the fallout of this pandemic will continue to affect the global financial landscape long after the virus subsides.
The UAE has gained a reputation for its ability to turn challenges such as unemployment and recession into opportunities, thanks to the vision, foresight, and preparations of our senior leadership. Following the directives of our government, we have begun preparing for a post-COVID-19 educational environment, with the economic aspect being one of the main pillars of this plan. We must all contribute to supporting our economy while maintaining what we have learned from the transition to remote working and learning, and our experience tightening our budgets.
Public and private education institutions have a professional and social responsibility to reassess their views of the economics of education, researching the ideal way to invest their financial, human, and technological resources. Our success in transitioning to remote learning has made clear an economic advantage; that, with the right technologies, remote learning can be provided in a highly efficient manner at a lower cost.
The economic challenges imposed by the crisis mean that we cannot afford to wait. We must start reengineering education budgets and restructuring our education systems to create a hybrid model that combines remote learning with traditional classroom education. This will offer more diverse options for education and achieve an ideal investment for budgets.
Firstly, this model will allow us to attract a higher number of students due to the increased capacities we will enjoy through remote learning. Secondly, it will allow us to attract academic faculty from anywhere in the world, with greater skills and experience, which will be particularly useful for specialized subjects and majors. We will also be able to work with them without having to bring them into the country. Third, it will allow us to restructure administrative tasks with options for remote working for certain types of jobs. For example, remote work is ideal for student services, which are being successfully offered remotely. Finally, we can redesign school and university buildings with a greater focus on practical skills, while creating an environment that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship, and extracurricular activities.
Relying on these methods, we can lower the cost of education and operational expenses, which is particularly useful to public educational institutions and will support their current expenditure control goals. Meanwhile, private intuitions will be able to offer lower fees, easing the financial burden on students and their families during trying economic times.
We have many opportunities to re-engineer the economics of education and achieve a balance between expenditure control and quality. By planning in advance, we can successfully overcome the challenges of the post-COVID-19 era.
Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi
President and CEO