The survey, taken by rectors from 90 countries, forecasts a significant impact on universities’ finances and a fall in enrolment.

70% of the institutions surveyed expect to offer blended programmes and stress the need to invest more in infrastructure.

Madrid, 24 November 2020 – PRESS RELEASE
Banco Santander and the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) have presented the results of a survey of more than 700 university rectors from 90 countries about the effects of the pandemic on education institutions: “Leadership response to covid-19”. The results show the pandemic will have a significant financial impact on university enrolment and infrastructure needs. 

Rectors and leaders from public and private universities pointed to pressures the pandemic has put on their financial model and on attracting new students. They also noted their education models may be subject to change in order to overcome the challenges posed by covid-19. 70% of these institutions expect to start offering blended programmes (classroom and online).

Over 73% of the surveyed institutions expect future income to fall, while 59% foresee a drop in enrolment. 49% expect funding difficulties. This pattern is consistent in all the regions where the survey was administered. 

45% of university heads envisage a greater need for student financial aid as well as investment in technology infrastructure, not to mention the development of further education programmes and support for student career development and entrepreneurship. 

While the need for student financial aid is greater in the Americas and Europe, the priority in Asia and Oceania is to invest in infrastructure. In Africa and the Middle East, the focus is on programmes to boost employability.

Having overcome the emergency response to the pandemic, we're now seeing the lasting impact it will have on education institutions around the world”, said Fernando León García, president of IAUP and rector of Sistema CETYS University. "In addition to pressures on fundraising and student enrolment, the effects of the pandemic have changed how higher education institutions work with industry, suggesting significant shifts in international education trends".  

We support this study providing unprecedented global analysis, as part of our commitment to higher education, where we pledge more than any other company. We hope this information will help universities prepare for the rapid changes brought about by the pandemic and the new education models to be implemented in the future", added Arturo Cherbowski, head of Santander Universities Mexico. “Santander is helping universities tackle this challenge because we're convinced investing in higher education will make all the difference in the post-covid world”.

The survey was split into three sections: Initial reactions, focusing on the first half of 2020; preparations for the 20-21 academic year, immediately after the start of the autumn term; and the outlook for the next three years. 

Its main conclusions were:

  • 37% of institutions said they were prepared to deal with covid-19. Asia and Oceania reported the highest levels (49%) and North America the lowest (29%). 
  • • Covid-19 is having a profound impact on partnerships between universities and businesses, with 56% of education institutions expecting relations to decline. 
  • Rectors appear to be focusing on a wide-ranging internationalization programme, expanding their "virtual mobility" programmes and underlining the importance of alliances between universities. 
  • • Main concerns are academic achievements (68%); institutions’ financial sustainability (57%); how to keep students engaged (51%); inclusion (49%); and a decline in enrolment (44%). 
  • Most institutions are homing in on temporary needs (47%), rather than restructuring (49%) or reinventing themselves (36%). This applies to public and private institutions in all regions where the survey was administered. 
  • Rectors believe future programmes will lean towards a combination of online, blended and classroom-based education (71%); blended education (70%), online education (67%) or education using alternative methods (66%). 

Banco Santander and its support of higher education
Banco Santander is firmly committed to progress and inclusive, sustainable growth. Its longstanding support for higher education sets it apart from the world's other financial institutions. With more than €1.8 billion invested in academic initiatives since 2002 through Santander Universities and over 430,000 university scholarships and grants awarded since 2005, it has 1,000 agreements in place with universities and institutions in 22 countries.

About the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP)
IAUP is an association of leaders from higher education institutions worldwide. A non-governmental organization (NGO), it holds the highest (ECOSOC) consultation rights at the United Nations and formal consultation rights with UNESCO. Its membership is limited to individuals who serve as presidents, rectors or vice-chancellors at regionally accredited colleges or universities. The IAUP was founded in 1965 and has been striving since then to achieve excellence by increasing the exchange of experiences, levels of collaboration and networking between university leaders; providing a well-informed forum for university leaders throughout the world; contributing to a worldwide vision of higher education; strengthening the international mission of institutions throughout the world; making every effort for the voice of educational leaders to be heard; supporting sustainable development in a context of global competency; and promoting peace and international understanding through education.

About Banco Santander 
Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the third quarter of 2020, Banco Santander had more than a trillion euros in total funds, 147 million customers, of which 22 million are loyal and 41 million are digital, 11,500 branches and 193,000 employees.