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THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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Global Survey Reveals US/UK Views on Education

Covid-19 has been a game-changer for education, according to Pearson’s annual Global Learning Survey

Published on August 10, 2020

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Today, August 10, education firm Pearson released their annual Global Learner Survey, which offers insights from around the world on the latest trends and attitudes towards education. With learning in 2020 being substantially affected by Covid-19 and lockdowns, some of the results are important for those in the US and abroad, both those who are seeking overseas study and those who are looking at education in their current country of residence.

One of the notable findings of the survey, which saw over 7000 individuals aged 16-70 participating, is that more than 75% say the pandemic has fundamentally changed education as we know it. A particularly big change has been found in how US and UK individuals are responding to opportunities for overseas study at higher education levels. Globally, 81% of respondents agreed that "fewer people will go overseas for their studies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic". In the UK, 82% agreed with that statement, compared to 78% in the US.

Higher education at degree level may also struggle due to the economic environment. The survey found that 77% in the UK, and 76% in the US, agreed that "fewer people will be able to afford a university education as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic". The cost implications of study are particularly noticeable in the US, where 75% of respondents said "the federal government should provide some level of free higher education for all". 75% also said that the government should "offer some level of forgiveness for federal student loans".

When it comes to learning itself, the survey found that online education could be set to remain. When asked if more college/university students will attend school virtually within 10 years, 79% of all respondents agreed. In the US, 82% agreed with that sentiment, with 77% of those in the UK also agreeing. For virtual schooling at primary and secondary level education, 70% of all respondents agreed that there would be more virtual school attendance within 10 years. 74% in the US agreed with this statement, whilst 63% in the UK agreed. Interestingly, the US numbers are similar to the same question asked in the 2019 version of Pearson's Global Learner Survey. However, for the UK, the numbers are notably higher for 2020 than for 2019, suggesting Covid-19 has changed perspectives in the UK on the future of virtual schools.

Whilst there's a growing expectation of virtual learning, respondents also highlighted the need for the education sector to do better at maximizing the potential of technology. 88% of all respondents say they want institutions to maximize learning through technology, although 67% say that the education sector is less effective at using technology than other sectors like banking and healthcare.

Among the other key trends found in the survey, 9 in 10 learners want education institutions to do more to provide equal access to learning. Across the world, there continues to be concerns about re-opening schools in September, with with 62% of respondents globally worrying that re-opening in the Fall will risk the lives of students. However, 77% of respondents globally also feel that re-opening universities is vital for a healthy economy.

The survey also found that changing job landscapes will mean that adult education and skills development will be essential. 89% of respondents said they will need to develop better digital skills, whilst 77% said that working remotely has already taught them different skills than working in the office. 71% of respondents globally intend to keep working remotely in future.

Transatlantic learning is a big topic, and the survey shows that the pandemic will have huge implications for those who want to study, work or re-locate to the UK or the US in the near future. It's likely that attitudes will change if the course of the pandemic alters, but these surveys are useful indicators to the direction of travel if you're considering international education or opportunities for learning in 2020 and beyond.

The full Global Learner Survey, with lots more interesting detail on US and UK views on education, can be downloaded at www.pearson.com/news-and-research/the-future-of-education/global-learner-survey.html

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