Post #95: Listen to the students

26 November 2020…

Post #95: Listen to the students

A third of the planet is aged under 20 and half are under 30. If we accept that the young are, self-evidently, a proxy for the future, it pays to listen to them. It was with particular interest then that we read a recently published summary of the views, attitudes and priorities of over 2,200 students globally, as well as those responsible for educating them. “Quality education” is the fourth Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations and so increasing wellbeing and trust in higher education during a year of such change – the focus for the study – is crucial.

Given that the age cohort in question is more digitally native than any other, it should come as no surprise that communications help students feel connected, a view with which over 75% of those interviewed concurred. Email was listed as the preferred form of communication by students (favoured by 25%), closely followed by video conferencing (23%). Education staff, by contrast, ranked these two media the other way around (34% and 22% respectively), presumably since it represents a more visible form of checking in/up.

Students were emphatic in stating that educational establishments could improve their responses to the pandemic by offering not only more flexibility with grading and course assignments (35% interviewed said they were in favour of this option), but also with the provision of more flexible academic options (a 33% response rate). This would typically mean a combination of online, in-person and hybrid courses. Based on survey responses, only ~20% of all courses are online at present (a figure which seems remarkably consistent across the world). The good news, however, is that ~60% of education staff globally say that their institutions are investing in new modalities (i.e. more online courses).

Interestingly, consensus was split almost evenly between whether the pandemic had changed students’ education plans (51% globally said yes, with American students most supportive of this statement and those in France and the Nordics least). That more education matters is a given, in our view – there is ample data to suggest that better educational attainment has lifelong consequences. What interests us more is how students learn. Not only do educational institutions need to become more flexible (digital), but we expect students increasingly to complement further education with more individualised self-paced and adaptive learning programmes, such as those provided by the likes of Chegg.

26 November 2020

The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Heptagon Capital is an investor in Chegg.
The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.


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