Remaining ‘open’ during a crisis: Managing academic continuity at The Open University, UK

Cooke, Helen; Barton, Helen and Rossade, Klaus-Dieter (2023). Remaining ‘open’ during a crisis: Managing academic continuity at The Open University, UK. Advances in Online Education: A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 2(1) pp. 6–16.



When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world faced an unprecedented amount of complexity and uncertainty, regardless of their mode of delivering teaching, learning and assessment activities to their students. Despite already having robust policies and processes in place for delivering such activities online, distance learning institutions around the world were far from being exempt from this disruption. This paper highlights that the continuity of academic decision making during a crisis affects all institutions and needs to be managed carefully to maintain the expected quality of academic standards and student experience, while protecting the health and well-being of students and staff. By evaluating the effectiveness of The Open University’s approach to considering academic issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and considering longer-term implications for the institution, this paper presents a modified version of an academic continuity model to assist other institutions in managing academic continuity during crisis situations. This revised model takes into account the cyclical and ongoing nature of The Open University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that prolonged uncertainty can have on applying such a model in practice.

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