Higher education institutions around the world have actively taken their responsibility in the fight against the worldwide coronary pandemic. Many universities reacted quickly and contact teaching was suspended and remote teaching methods have been applied with variable success.

In Finland, after the strong recommendation of the Government, universities closed their doors on 16th of March, 2020. Fortunately, Finnish higher education institutions have already had a lot of e-learning content available, so the threshold for switching exclusively to e-learning was low. Also, the pedagogical competencies of teachers have been continuously developed in professional higher education institutions.

Based on the experience of the last couple of weeks, it can be said that Finnish higher education institutions have been able to operate satisfactorily in these exceptional circumstances. The challenge, of course, has been to manage the acute situation. Unprecedented problems may arise if the situation continues.

From previous financial crises and recessions, we have learned above all that the world will be different after a crisis. Old solutions that were previously applicable are no longer valid. New solutions are needed.

The challenge for all organizations, including universities, is to quickly admit the profound change in the society. The economic situation will demand changes.

Thus, it is necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of the situation, update the strategies and start the development programs.

Of course, personnel roles will need to be updated, too. Therefore, strategic competencies need to be redefined as do the change management competencies of top management.

As with all crises, the current situation is a test of top management’s strategic competencies. The result is the opportunity to give ’rebirth’ to the organization and to lead it successfully to a new tomorrow.

Ritva Laakso-Manninen and Lauri Tuomi
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