Higher education is widely expected to move online

Survey for the World Economic Forum finds divergent views about the cost of in-person higher education among 29 countries.

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  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
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A new global Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum finds seven in ten adults globally (72%) thinking that, five years from now, higher education in their country will be conducted online at least as much as in person. Only 28% think it will be delivered only or mostly in-person although more agree than disagree that in-person higher education is worth its cost (53% vs. 36%).

The survey was conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor platform among more than 27,500 online adults under the age of 75 in many of the 29 countries and territories, October 23-November 6, 2020, as the coronavirus resurged.

One in four expect higher education to be administered only or mostly online

One-quarter of adults globally (23%) believe that in five years, higher education in their country will be conducted entirely or mostly online; another half (49%) think it will be conducted about as much online as in-person.

In Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, Malaysia, and Australia, at least three in ten adults think higher education will be held only or mostly online; only about one in ten in Chile, South Korea, Japan, and Peru have the same view.

Globally, only 29% think higher education will be dispensed only or mostly in-person, but nearly half of adults surveyed in China in Japan think it will still be the case, compared to only about one in six adults in Malaysia, Australia, and Brazil.

Opinions about the way higher education will be conducted in the future vary somewhat by age: those aged 50-74 are less likely than their younger counterparts to think it will be held entirely or mostly online (19% vs. 25% among those aged 18-34 and 24% among those aged 35-49). At a global level, views do not vary much by gender or by level of education.

Wide gap across countries on whether in-person higher education is worth its cost

On average, across the 29 countries, just over half (53%) agree that in-person higher education is worth its cost versus about one third (36%) who disagree.

Agreement is highest in China (81%), Sweden (78%), Saudi Arabia (69%), India (68%), the Netherlands (64%), Malaysia (63%), Singapore (62%), and Germany (61%).

In contrast, in Chile (59%), Italy (57%), Russia (51%), Brazil (51%), and South Korea (51%), more than half of adults surveyed think in-person higher education is not worth its cost. Spain (48%) and the United States (47%) come close.

Globally, men, adults aged 50-74 (55%) and, most of all, those with a university degree (59%) are especially likely to agree that in-person higher education in their country is worth the cost.

These are the results of a 29-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 21,507 adults aged 21-74 in Singapore, 18-74 in United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in 23 other markets between October 23 and November 6, 2020.

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US

Society