Managing and responding to pandemics in higher educational institutions: initial learning from COVID-19

Takako Izumi, Vibhas Sukhwani, Akhilesh Surjan, Rajib Shaw

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the key challenges, approaches and lessons of the higher educational institutions (HEIs) in the context of COVID-19. Design/methodology/approach: A survey was conducted to understand the key challenges being faced by the HEIs around the world during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 150 responses were collected from 65 universities, located in 29 countries. Findings: The results show that 47% of respondents with defined universities believe their institutions lacked a permanent or dedicated emergency management office, and 41% said their HEIs lacked a general business continuity plan for an emergency. In universities with BCPs, 33% of the plans do not cover biological hazards and pandemic risk management, and 60% of the plans did not include conducting any advanced simulation exercises. More than 70% the responded said their instruction, information sharing and decision-making process were timely and open. The major challenges identified were a lack of adequate preparedness for pandemic and of pandemic-specific advanced simulation exercises. The next major challenges were the change in the mode of teaching to online lectures and working from home. Based on these challenges, a set of short- and long-term recommendations were proposed. Originality/value: This was the first survey in academic institutions in post COVID-19 context. The findings will be useful for preparing for biological and other related hazards.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-66
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 4


    • COVID-19
    • Community and local government collaboration
    • Online classes
    • Shifting academic calendar
    • University responses

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Building and Construction
    • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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