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

Survey Results – Will job seekers drop their salary?

We are seeing a regional trend of jobs being offered to market at lower salaries than ever before and overall packages being squeezed. We recently ran a survey asking our vast LinkedIn network whether they would take a salary cut. ***A quick note here about Inspire...

Why relaxing your requirements can help you find the perfect hire

You have been trying to fill a role for a long time, but no one is quite hitting the mark, could it be that you are being too narrow with your requirements? We find it is very much a Middle Eastern issue, as brand new candidates from overseas coming into the region...

Career Development Training

You’ve decided that you want to start a new career, or perhaps you’ve been looking for a while but that perfect opportunity hasn’t arisen yet.  Perhaps you are between jobs and you now have time to improve and develop on your career/life skills. Now is the ideal time...

News from the Digital Recruitment Team at Inspire Selection

Inspire Selection is delighted to announce that Carolyn Ross has joined the agency to head up the Digital Recruitment Team. Carolyn has been recruiting in the Middle East since 2008 and therefore has a substantial understanding of the recruitment market specialising...

5 Top Tips to get the Right Candidate for the Job!

As we begin a new year, many employers are seeking fresh new employees to help them to recover and build their business. As recruiters, we support our candidates to perform their best by briefing them on interview skills however, we also find that that a great...

Review of 2020

Now that 2020 has drawn to a close, we look back on the successful placements we have made last year and the diverse make up of candidates we secured jobs for. Whilst it has been an unusual and unsettling year, we are proud to say that we still managed to change many...

The Magic of Kindness

Today is World Kindness Day: Everybody could do with some kindness at the moment and whilst the world has been stumbling to catch up through a global pandemic, we have been overwhelmed to see acts of kindness within our...

Living with Salary Cuts

The news coming from the UK, Europe and the US where people are being told to prepare for a ‘tough winter’, is full of localised lockdowns, rising positive numbers and cautious consumer behaviour. This caution and negativity will naturally affect businesses in the...

What is more important: Attitude or Experience?

Attitude or experience? Which do you hire on? Which would get you hired? For recruiters, the longstanding question remains – who makes for a better hire - someone with the perfect experience, or someone with the right attitude? Who would you rather hire? Candidate...

How to show your Positive Attitude on a CV

We recently ran a survey on our social media: When asked – "which is the most important factor you consider when recruiting?" - a survey of over 340 Hiring Managers reported: Educational Qualifications      9% Languages 3% Industry Experience    43% Candidate's...