Building resilience in Higher Education in Mauritius


School photo created by wirestock -

The COVID-19 challenge is unparalleled, triggering major changes among economic and educational sectors, including the Higher education sector. The bases of this unique ecosystem have been impacted significantly, creating the most severe disruption in the world’s higher education systems in history.

In the case of Mauritius, the pandemic caught the Higher education sector unprepared and both public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) had to re-invent themselves as campuses were closed, improvising with virtual learning platforms to ensure continuity of studies, albeit it was an uncharted territory for the majority of them. Surveys conducted during the national lockdowns and post-lockdown purports that the HEIs in Mauritius have demonstrated resilience during the COVID 19 waves. Besides pivoting to online teaching, the immediate actions taken by HEIs to ensure continuity of the studies include: training of staff to adapt to online learning, communication strategies were established to stay connected with staff and students, international students were allowed to join classes virtually, assessment were conducted online and a number of institutions had recourse to Open Educational Resources. For more details please refer the booklet published by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) [1] in July 2021.

A spectrum of actions taken (March to June 2020)

Reference: Report on Resilience, HEC March 2021

Figure 1 depicts actions taken in online learning during COVID-19 pandemic.

In Mauritius, Higher Education’s overdue digital transformation has now been catalysed by COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-pandemic, higher education system was pummelled for lagging behind other industries in moving to a more digitally-driven model, a widespread wave was in fact challenging the traditional higher education model. The crisis has forced HEIs to revisit their approaches to teaching, learning and assessment; thereby creating opportunities for new hybrid model of education to emerge and the integration of information technology in education.

Following various studies [2] conducted to gauge the resilience of the HEIs, one of the key recommendations that was postulated on the way forward was to develop guidelines and policies on Open Distance Learning (ODL). Fully conscious of the need for an adapted and sustainable National ODL Policy, the regulator of Higher Education in Mauritius, the Higher Education Commission, spearheaded national consultations with selected stakeholders in the Higher Education Sector as part of the SADC ODL Strategic Plan 2021-2030.

Other recommendations that emanated from the surveys include: the need to develop a comprehensive framework for student welfare as students are our largest stakeholder; develop guidelines/policies with respect to Open Educational Resources and facilitate digitalisation of Higher Education. Importantly, the shift from face to face to online teaching has accentuated the need to look into Quality. Clear policies, frameworks and guidelines for the implementation of online learning should also be developed in concurrence with Quality Assurance units and departments overseeing e-learning. Training and support should also be imparted to staff, more specifically in instructional design to help HEIs in the design, development and implementation of online programmes.

It is important to underscore that the Government Programme 2020-2024 stipulates that ‘As our country enters the next phase of its development, Government will create an environment conducive to learning through modern digital technology and latest best practices’. In addition, one of the National Strategic directions for Education 2021-2024 is “to build the resilience of the education sector to ensure continuity in the delivery of all-inclusive, equitable and quality education to all learners”. A shift to a blended mode of teaching and learning, e-learning platforms and digital learning content to enhance student learning at all education levels is expected.


[1] The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is the apex body that regulates higher education in Mauritius. Since the Commission came into operation, it has been entrusted with multiple responsibilities, notably funding, the promotion of the development of higher education, regulation of higher education providers and alignment of the higher education sector with the government’s priorities.

[2] Ensuring quality in online teaching and delivery in higher education institutions in Mauritius in line with SDG 4, 07 June 2021; Study on the Situation of Open and Distance Learning in Southern African Development Community (SADC), March 2.