The Importance of Being Open: How European Open Universities Can Reposition in the Post-Pandemic Higher Education Landscape

Antonio Moreira Teixeira
Universidade de Lisboa

José Mota
Universidade Aberta


Open universities (OUs) have been at the forefront of educational technology. Designed as innovative and flexible organizations, they have proven instrumental to assure the consolidation of research, innovation and quality practice in distance and online education. Inspired by the impact of open education and MOOCs, traditional higher education institutions began embracing technology-enhanced learning and online education. The growing competition from these universities, as well as of new non-formal providers, have resulted for the OUs in the decrease in student numbers, especially in Europe and North America. With the closing down of campuses due to Covid-19, this growing movement was noticeably accelerated. As higher education prepares for the new normal, how may the European OU remain socially relevant and competitive? Are they still indispensable for assuring quality education opportunities for all, as a growing number of critics question? In this paper we analyse the impact of the pandemic on European OU, discuss possible strategies to meet the challenges of a rapidly transforming higher education landscape, and identify potential trends and models for future development.

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