College students say clearer communications with their institutions could improve learning during the COVID-19 pandemic that has limited most classes to online.
Better communications include transparent decision-making, a 24/7 chatbot, text messaging and better IT support, according to a poll of 2,200 students and staff in Spain, the United States, Britain, Australia, France, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
While all students reported diminished trust with university leadership during the pandemic, students in the U.S., Britain and Spain reported the greatest amount of disconnect from their institutions.
Students and staff also asked for testing for COVID-19 and personal protection equipment (PPE) such as masks. Contact tracing was another measure students and staff said was important.
To date, COVID-19 has killed more than 1.8 million people worldwide, including 341,000 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.
When asked, “What are your expectations of your institutions in moving forward?” students said they wanted more career advice, support and “credentials other than a degree,” such as internships or co-ops.
Students also asked for more flexibility in their online education, such as course options and scheduling around other responsibilities, like jobs.
Reduced tuition and more financial aid were ways institutions could help students during the pandemic, the student respondents said.
Despite complaints about online learning, 44% of students polled agreed that they were learning as much online as they would in person, while 32% disagreed and 25% were neutral on the issue.
The poll was conducted in August and September 2020 by the research arm of the customer-management company, Salesforce. The questionnaire was devised by Ipsos, Salesforce.org and the Chronicle for Higher Education. The poll was released in November.