The COVID-19 pandemic: Streamlining or capsizing the global higher education revolution


  • Prof C.C. Wolhuter North-West University, South Africa
  • Prof L. Jacobs University of the Free State, South Africa



COVID-19 pandemic, Global higher education revolution, Higher education scholarship, Managerialism


The aim of this article is to interpret the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic within the frame of the global higher education revolution. One of the striking elements of the contemporary world since 1990 is a global higher education revolution. While the most prominent feature of this revolution is massification, it is a multifaceted revolution, involving all aspects of higher education, including the curriculum, methods of teaching and learning, the academic profession, funding, relations between higher education and government and management. This article first outlines the societal drivers of this revolution, being demographic shifts, increasing affluence, the rise of knowledge economies, the neo-liberal economic revolution, the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution, the rise of multicultural societies, democratisation, individualisation and the rise of the creed of human rights and next key features of the revolution will be surveyed. The revolution is then critically evaluated by interrogating and using as yardstick the unique, indispensable mission of higher education in society. The changes that the pandemic are forcing in the higher education sector is then assessed against the potential of the disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic to redress or strengthen the discontents of this global higher education revolution.


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How to Cite

Wolhuter, C., & Jacobs, L. (2021). The COVID-19 pandemic: Streamlining or capsizing the global higher education revolution. Perspectives in Education, 39(1), 291–303.