New task forces on widening access to higher education, addressing student debt and mental health established following Global Student Summit hosted by the Varkey Foundation, in partnership with Chegg.org.
Global Teacher Prize winner 2019, Peter Tabichi, hailed the announcement of six new student task forces today to address the huge challenges higher education faces in the age of COVID and beyond. The task forces – exploring issues from the high cost of education to unequal access to online learning – were founded in response to data presented to the Global Student Summit, hosted by the Varkey Foundation in partnership with Chegg.org, that showed the scale of the problems faced by students around the world.
The data, revealed by the Chegg.org Global Student Survey of nearly 17,000 undergraduates across 21 countries, showed students want to see universities offer lower cost study options, that many are struggling with debt and to afford food, and that student mental health has suffered during the period of COVID-19.
The six task forces established in response to these challenges will be run by Chegg.org's Changemaker Community comprising the Top 50 finalists of the inaugural Global Student Prize to be announced in August. Their work will begin in the summer and they will lend universities, businesses, governments, and international bodies the insights and varied perspectives of students from every continent.
Peter Tabichi said:
"COVID presents a huge threat to African education. Not least it has widened the digital divide, further disadvantaging those students who do not have access to online learning. The international community must urgently work towards internet access for all so that all students are able to continue learning even when their university or school is forced to close.
"I welcome the creation of these new task forces, which will see students lead the way in providing vital solutions to the digital gap and the other great challenges facing higher education in the age of COVID and beyond."
Six task forces were announced to examine each of the following six calls to action arising from the Global Student Summit:
1) Universities should widen access to education by exploring lower cost study options
2) The international community must urgently bridge the growing global digital divide by guaranteeing internet access for all
3) Universities, governments and business must work together to urgently address the global student debt crisis
4) Universities throughout the world must focus resources and attention on supporting their student populations' mental health
5) Universities and government must ensure that food insecurity will not be a barrier to learning for students
6) Universities should support their students, whatever they study, in preparing for the fast-changing job market
Lila Thomas, Head of Chegg.org, said:
"Students all over the world have shown tremendous strength, focus and determination to carry on learning and fighting for their future. We must listen to their voices as we look to help students thrive in the new educational environment left behind by the pandemic.
"Our new Chegg.org Changemaker Community, made up of students from every corner of the world, will bring fresh thinking to take forward these calls to action and look for lasting solutions to the challenges faced by higher education."
Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:
"Even as the world shifts beneath their feet, students are coming together to help transform education for their peers across the world. I welcome these student voices and hope all the key stakeholders listen to their crucial insights."