Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19

National Universities in Argentina during the pandemic outbreak

Mariana Mendonça
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 5 | a91 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v5i0.91 | © 2020 Mariana Mendonça | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 August 2020 | Published: 02 November 2020

About the author(s)

Mariana Mendonça, Institute of Argentine and American History ‘Dr. Emilio Ravignani’, Department of History, Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and, National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina


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Abstract

Background: The health emergency that Argentina is experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic radically changed institutional normality at all educational levels. Universities have certainly not escaped this logic. Whilst their first response was a general shut down, along with a shift to online teaching and learning, the actions taken in response to the pandemic went far and beyond. These institutions sought to contribute, in different ways, to satisfy the new social demands linked to the outbreak of the health emergency.

Aim: We aim to give an account of the actions that the national universities in Argentina took in response to the distinctive social demands linked to the pandemic outbreak.

Setting: Specifically, we focussed on the academic and pedagogical decisions, the reorientation of scientific research, the availability of infrastructure and resources for the COVID-19 treatment and the responses to the social demands of local communities.

Methods: We worked with institutional documents from the national universities, the National Inter-University Council, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology. We also used news sources, such as newspapers articles and the universities web sites.

Results: Our research brought the attention to some interesting facts on the country’s higher education system, which shows us a distinctive role that universities play in Argentina. Nevertheless, we have also found indicators regarding the difficulties that these institutions struggle with. In particular, these linked to the economic crises that the country has suffered for decades, which in turn have changed the universities specific features.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the functioning of society as a whole, and universities were no exception. Despite the strong heterogeneity that characterises national universities throughout the country, all of them agreed to make all their resources available to mitigate the effects of the health emergency.


Keywords

university; higher education; Argentina; pandemic; COVID-19; social demands; research; online teaching

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