Working in Higher Education post Covid-19

GCC university staff report feeling positive about the future of Higher Education in the GCC despite expecting ‘a new normal’ in post Covid education

Schools and Universities are opening their doors this month to students after 6 months away. Whilst this ‘opening of doors’ for many may, in fact, be virtual, the Higher Education team at Inspire Selection recently surveyed a group of GCC Higher Education Professionals to get their thoughts on how the pandemic will change how they deliver Higher Education in the region.

See the Research results here

Interestingly, the respondents believe that headcount of academic staff will be reduced as a result of Covid but are less sure that student recruitment will be affected mainly because of the acceptance that online/distance learning is now a ‘norm’.

Recruitment of academic staff in Higher Education establishments was described by one respondent as ‘cautious’ and ‘very difficult’ for other GCC establishments who are dealing with border closures and the halting of new visas.

Blended Learning

When asked about in person lectures – only 35% of respondents thought that they would take place in term one, however, for the rest of the academic year a more positive 74% of people believed that students would be getting at least some of their lectures in-person, either full time or via a blended approach.

Despite the changes in place, the majority of respondents believe that it will still be possible to deliver quality Higher Education in the region, although there is caution, many believe that it will take time and a lot of hard work to adapt to the transition and keeping all safe is of upmost importance.

One respondent commented ‘With proper quality assurance management tools and measures in place the quality of program delivery should not be compromised. However, that said, a lot needs to be done in relation to this, for example, in the area of remote assessments.’

Teaching staff were expected to get up to speed very quickly with the technology and the many challenges associated with distance learning as well as finding innovative ways of delivering excellent education whilst being flexible enough to prepare for a ‘blended learning’ model.

Whichever method will be used to deliver the education it is widely acknowledged that the workload of staff members has increased hugely – the teaching load has increased adding more burden to the academic staff, however, research time has decreased.

Student Experience

Unfortunately, over 60% of the respondents believe that the changes that have been put into place will mean that the students won’t get the same experience as they would have done before the pandemic, missing out on the social aspects and the personal interaction with professors as well as the extra-curricular activities being cited as the main reasons.

Students in the wrong the time-zone or poor internet connections has also been recognised as a problem, many who have been distance learning in remote areas have struggled to access all of the learning in real time, which has thrown up many more challenges and required establishments to be more innovative in the way they deliver the learning.

All change

The respondents were split over whether or not they think that things will return to the way it was before – due to the way that Higher Education is continually changing and developing many believe that elements will remain, but hoping that face-to-face learning will return with a blended approach through some online learning.

It is promising and not surprising that not one respondent reported feeling negative about the future of Higher Education in the GCC.

The challenges that lie ahead will be huge, more innovation at breakneck speed will be required to ensure that Higher Education in the region continues to offer excellence.


As universities stretch the boundaries of innovation to complement their usual education style, administrators and management battle with how to keep ‘the business’ efficient. Deciding where to invest in areas such as technology and salaries whilst trying to balance the increased teaching workload yet less access and funding for research.

There has been an increased uptake of Artificial Intelligence – eye tracking software in particular – which is being used during exams to identify any possible attempts at cheating and adapting exam questions to make it less likely for the age long plagiarism.

It is apparent, with strong leadership and vision, Higher Education in the region continues to move forward by collaboration with peers and facing the challenges head-on.

If you need help with any resource planning or would like to talk to our team in more depth about the changes at your establishment – please contact:

Elaine Hardman | Director – Executive Search & Recruitment

Office: 00971 4 368 0852

Mobile/Whatsapp: 00971 50 298 1653


Thank you to the many respondents who took the time to complete the survey and a special thanks to David Schmidt – President – The American University in Dubai and Armin Eberlein – Deputy Rector for Academic Affairs – German University of Technology in Oman.

See the full Research results here

Recent Posts

Alexa! – Will ChatGPT take my job?

We were lucky enough to hear the team at Mercer present their 2023 Global Talent trends report at a recent career networking event. One fact that stuck out is that 50% of workers will need reskilling by 2025, but does this mean that our jobs are at risk? As artificial...

Overcoming Gender Bias in the Selection Process

International Women's Day is just around the corner, and it's an important opportunity to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all around the world. Here in Dubai, there is no shortage of amazing women who are breaking down...

Inspire Selection – Higher Education – Lynne

We are delighted to announce that Lynne Whelehan Sheehan has joined the Inspire Selection Higher Education team.  Lynne, is an experienced Human Resources professional with 15 years’ experience in education, government and private sectors has attained an MBA and...

Inspire – Sales and Marketing – Anum and Nicky

We are delighted to announce that Anum Yasin and Nicky Hughes are joining the Inspire Selection Sales and Marketing team as Senior Recruitment Consultants. Working in the Marketing, Communications and Events team Anum and Nicky will be supporting Carolyn Ross in...

Document Attestation

In the UAE you will need to get documents and certificates attested before applying for your visa. Attestation is a procedure of authenticating a document by an authorised person, a department or an authority using their seal and signature to guarantee it’s...

5 Tips to Staying Motivated During a Long Job Search

Searching for a job can be exhausting. You spend your time working hard on time-consuming applications, networking and interviewing, then the rejections and lack of feedback can chip away at your self-confidence and destroy your motivation. It’s hard to stay upbeat...

Leadership Style

Joining a new company? Or looking for a new hire for your team? It's crucial to understand Leadership Style. Willyou fit in? Will the new hire respond well to the way the company or department is run and managed? It is important to understand leadership style and how...

Inspire Selection – Construction – Jag Prashar

We are delighted to announce that Jag Prashar, MSc, MRICS has joined Inspire Selection. With over 10 years’ experience as a qualified Quantity Surveyor / Project Manager in client side and consultancy organisations, both in the UK and UAE, Jag brings her expertise to...

Inspire Selection – Cyber Security – Welcome Scott Burns

We are delighted to welcome Scott Burns to the Inspire Selection | Recruitment Agency team to head up the Cyber Security division. “With the rapid push towards digitization and hyper connectivity, the cybersecurity market across the UAE is predicted to grow at an...