Covid-19 may force universities to revise their role and business model

Irish and British universities have discovered the fragility of their reliance on the huge fees paid by a seemingly limitless pool of international students, and will also have to ask themselves whether they are educational institutions focused on the public good, or primarily businesses focused on revenue raising

31st May, 2020
Covid-19 may force universities to revise their role and business model
Irish universities have become increasingly dependent on the income from international tuition fees. Picture: Getty

The Black Death that swept through Europe almost seven centuries ago forced the closure of many universities from Oxford to Padua and marked a decline in these medieval institutions that lasted for decades with low enrolment, empty campuses and a lack of funding.

Conversely, the smallpox pandemic of the late eighteenth century indirectly reinvigorated higher education. Edward Jenner’s discovery of a smallpox vaccine in 1796 highlighted the value of knowledge and scientific inquiry.

The...

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