Society and Workplace Diversity Research Group

PANPREP – Pandemic Preparedness and Academic Continuity

A 4-nation study on digitalization, academic continuity, and well-being among university students, faculty, and staff

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This is a low budget and internally funded (project from the medical faculty, UiB) to explore the extent to which higher learning institutions in four countries (Ghana, Norway, South Africa, and Uganda) are prepared to deal with future pandemics.  The goal is to draw lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and explore the universities’ preparedness for academic continuity during health pandemics and other catastrophes that can offset academic work.  The question is, as COVID-19 recedes into history, albeit not completely, what lessons has the world learnt to better tackle future pandemics of similar proportions?  Of interest in this cross-nation study is whether socio-economic inequalities within, and between countries (in the form of digital learning) differentially impacted covid-19-precautions in higher education; whether the precautions differentially affected the well-being of students, faculty members and staff, and the extent to which faculty, students and alike are prepared to face future pandemic to ensure minimum disruption in the academic life of higher learning institutions.  The project involves a questionnaire survey among students in the four countries, together with interviews and focus group discussions among all three groups of participants (students, faculty, and staff). The participation of the four countries in the project is that they aptly demonstrate the digital divide. Digital divide is used in the project as an indicator of socio-economic inequalities (i.e., SDG 10) within and across countries where internet penetration is highest in Norway and lowest in Uganda.