The Changing Role of Universities During the COVID Crisis

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On the 2nd of June 2021, City-REDI held an external seminar featuring Dr Rhiannon Pugh from Lund University.

The Changing Role of Universities During the COVID Crisis


I am currently undertaking qualitative research with various university staff about how the university’s role in regional development is changing in light of the Covid crisis. In particular, research is focussing on how technology is changing the “business as usual”, how universities are responding to their specific region’s needs in their work, and also the emotional dimensions of the crisis and how universities (i.e. as the people who work within them) are responding in real-time. The presentation will present the analysis of the qualitative research currently being conducted.

Summary of the event
    • “Universities UK sees a potentially significant Covid-19 risk posed to UK universities to contribute to the economy, which may have a long-lasting economic effect. Among the reason are the economic impacts of campus closures or the drop in international students’ numbers.”
    • The work is based on the research conducted by Rhiannon Pugh with Danny Soetanto and Ellie Hamilton from Lancaster University in the UK; Sarah Jack from Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden and Elisa Thomas from Nord Universitet in Norway.
    • “In the last decades, an over-proliferation of terms to describe and capture universities’ regional roles have appeared entrepreneurial universities, engaged universities, anchor institutions, civic universities, the third mission, triple helix, mode 2 universities, amongst others.”
    • “This over-proliferation has made this sub-field of research quite confusing and complex. It could have also led to overlapping and efficiencies if different researchers supporting different concepts have missed each other work due to concept labelling”.
    • The research presented is based on focus group interviews with PhD students in Sweden and interviews with international academic staff. The research focuses on the perception of the effect that Covid-19 has had in the PhD research environment and day-to-day work (productivity, personal responsibility, supervision, etc.).

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