In 2025, higher education will be a hybrid of in-person and online learning, according to a new Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum.

As a second wave of COVID-19 saw cases resurging across the globe in October, more than 27,500 adults in 29 countries were asked how they saw higher education being conducted in their country, five years from now.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents said higher education in their country would be conducted online at least as much as in person, if not more.

The pandemic saw as many as 1.3 billion learners affected this year, as schools and universities were forced to close, and adopt ‘blended’ learning strategies, which mixes online with face-to-face teaching.

Moving online

This chart shows how different countries thing higher education could change in the next five years.

Higher education could change a lot in the next few years.
Image: Ipsos/WEF

One in four adults surveyed (23%) believe higher education will move mostly online, while around half (49%) think it will be split between in-person and online. Only 29% think it will be delivered only or mostly in-person.

Nearly half of respondents in China (48%) and Japan (47%), which have had relatively low numbers of COVID-19 cases, think traditional in-person teaching will still be in place.

But only a third of adults in India (31%), where cases have been the second highest in the world, and less than a fifth of adults in Brazil (18%), third highest for cases, agree higher education will be face-to-face.

Counting the cost

This chart shows whether people in key economies view higher education, taught in person as value for money.

Is in-person higher education value for money?
Image: Ipsos/WEF

The survey also found divergent views about the cost of in-person higher education.

On average, across the 29 countries, just over half (53%) agree that in-person higher education is worth its cost, compared to just over a third (36%) who disagree.

China (81%), Sweden (78%), Saudi Arabia (69%), India (68%), the Netherlands (64%), Malaysia (63%), Singapore (62%), and Germany (61%) were most in agreement.

While in Chile (59%), Italy (57%), Russia (51%), Brazil (51%), and South Korea (51%), more than half of adults surveyed think in-person higher education is not worth its cost.

Globally, men, adults aged 50-74 (55%) and, most of all, those with a university degree (59%) are especially likely to agree that in-person higher education in their country is worth the cost.