Skip to main content

COVID-19 is Higher Ed’s Chance to Start Anew. Here’s How.

April 27, 2020
WorldQuant University CEO Daphne Kis on the opportunity ahead

In the past weeks, we’ve seen merely the opening volley of the COVID-19 virus in the US. It’s putting a huge stress test on the very institutions that keep the global economy running. We’ve seen the service, travel and hospitality industries crumble. We’re seeing the limits of our healthcare system stretch further than ever before. But one area that isn’t getting as much attention is education. What will it look like when we’re on the other side of this global crisis? 

Many higher ed institutions are moving online to social distance, which is resulting in a mad dash to implement a digital-first approach to education. What does this mean? Teachers are receiving crash-course training on how to use tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts, adapting their curriculum, and pondering how to enforce their honor codes. Most teachers still don’t know how they will provide the level of service and support they’re able to provide in person, and few really believe that’s even possible. The transition is being treated like a stopgap so that higher ed can get through a “lost semester”, instead of the strategic reevaluation that we need. 

Meanwhile, 29% of US workers can work from home, including over half of all information workers — for whom the transition has been comparatively seamless. This virus has laid bare the chasm between higher education and the markets that hire its graduates. But it has also exposed an opportunity to see the cracks in our system for what they are, and to use new models to minimize the loss associated with this pandemic. 

Knowledge economy workers have been able to switch to remote work without much friction over the years. Zoom and Google Hangouts are familiar tools; workers are accustomed to having to work strategically with people they might not know well, whose hands they have may never have shaken. They have developed productive work relationships from afar because modern business demands it.

The skills that are most valuable now are those that higher ed was neither practicing nor effectively teaching to students. The coming months provide a huge opportunity for higher education institutions to stop focusing all of their energy and money on the experience of the in-class, in-dorm student, and to start building out robust, digitally native models that are resilient to economic and geographic turmoil. The current crisis should be enough motivation on its own, but there’s also value in adopting digital models because they promote the very skills that are needed now more than ever. Some organizations are already doing this, including Coursera, which is offering support to students of traditional higher education institutions who have been displaced. 

COVID-19 notwithstanding, distributed teams are the new normal. In the past 15 years, working from home among the non-self-employed has grown by 173%. In the past decade we’ve seen a 115% increase in telecommuting. Distributed workforce employees report better work-life balance, lower stress levels, and higher productivity. Distributed workforce employers get access to a much wider talent pool than they’d be limited to geographically, reducing turnover and improving efficiency. 

So, the skills that will be required in this ‘off-time’ for higher ed are actually the skills graduates will need the most when they go to work “full time.” Confoundingly, this seemingly idiosyncratic moment in higher ed might be the only experience many students receive to prepare them for the complex life of day-to-day business in a globalized economy. 

Programs and offerings that provide new, in-demand skills as well as remote collaboration with peers cannot be treated as a panacea during a time of social distancing. In fact, they are the surest way our economy, and the people in it, can recover. The target for higher education should not be to merely get through the semester while hoping things return to “normal.” Instead, leaders should seize the opportunity to create meaningful distance learning experiences that prepare students for their place in a workforce that will become more distributed than ever before. 

We’re not yet through the worst of COVID-19, and public health remains the top priority. Those dealing with the impact in higher education can’t ignore the opportunity to better prepare students for the reality of modern work. A global embrace of distance learning is a tall order even in the absence of a global crisis, but it’s imperative. 

Continue Reading

How to make upskilling stick in 3 easy steps

November 23, 2020

Check out WQU CEO Daphne Kis’s World Economic Forum post


WQU CEO Daphne Kis Discusses the Future of Online Education and Credentialing at the World Economic Forum’s Virtual Jobs Reset Summit

October 29, 2020

Learn more about the panel discussion and watch a recording of the full session.

Kumari Anjali

Student Spotlight: Kumari Anjali

October 27, 2020

Students from all over the globe are using WorldQuant University’s 100% online programs to develop in-demand skills to accelerate their careers. Here’s one of their stories.

WQU Debuts Credly Badges for Applied Data Science Module

September 24, 2020

Badges available to 2020 graduates now

Pursuing the American Dream? Start with skills.

August 06, 2020

Check out the latest op-ed from WQU CEO Daphne Kis

WorldQuant University Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Oluwaseyi Awoga

July 21, 2020

Students from all over the globe are using WorldQuant University’s 100% online programs to develop in-demand skills to accelerate their careers. Here’s one of their stories.

World Quant University Plagiarism Video

WQU Debuts Explainer on Plagiarism

May 26, 2020

Integrity is critical to transformative education

WorldQuant University CEO discusses free data science module and the future of online education

May 12, 2020

Listen to the full podcast from Pragmatic Institute

WorldQuant University Now Accepting Duolingo English Test

April 01, 2020

Making higher education even more accessible

Creating a Future Proof Workforce with WorldQuant University CEO Daphne Kis

April 02, 2019

Learning must be a lifelong journey

Daphne Kis, CEO of WQU, Delivers Keynote at Women in Data Science Conference

March 26, 2019

Pushes for expanding reach of Data Science to female-driven fields

WQU CEO Daphne Kis Discusses the On-Demand Future of Education with CNBC at Davos

February 13, 2019

Matching learners with jobs and resources is as important as education itself

WQU launches new, two-unit Data Science Module for 2019

December 10, 2018

New format gives students more time and practice to master key concepts

Why Electrical Engineers, Applied Physicists and Computer Scientists make great Financial Engineers

September 14, 2018

Check out this post and see if Financial Engineering would be a good career for you.

WQU CEO Daphne Kis discusses Building Tomorrow’s Workforce Today at Milken Global Conference

May 08, 2018

Notes need to move past segmented conversations on education

WorldQuant University introduces Intro to Data Science Module

April 30, 2018

8-week program built in partnership with The Data Incubator

At WorldQuant University, Your Privacy is Our Priority

April 09, 2018

WQU reviews data and privacy policies to protect students

WQU CEO Daphne Kis discusses future of talent and opportunity at Davos

March 05, 2018

Experts cite need for coding, analytical, collaborative skills well into the future

Daphne Kis, CEO of WorldQuant University, discusses WQU on RT America

January 04, 2018

Kis and host Bart Chilton discuss technology, philanthropy, and careers in data analytics

Igor Tulchinsky, Founder of WorldQuant University, Speaks at Milken Institute London Summit

December 27, 2017

London Summit convened leaders to discuss innovation challenges and opportunities in modern Europe

WorldQuant University founder Igor Tulchinsky named to The Bloomberg 50

December 04, 2017

The list features the defining global leaders in finance, business, culture and entertainment.

Introducing the new!

November 27, 2017

A modern rebrand for a modern university.

WorldQuant University Mints Masters of Financial Engineering

August 29, 2017

Igor Tulchinsky’s WorldQuant University teaches new skills for tech-driven finance industry.

Online Education: A Bridge Not Too Far

June 28, 2017

As chairman of the advisory board of WorldQuant University, retired Admiral James Stavridis discusses how he is applying his lifelong love of education to the world of financial engineering.

Free Market Lessons – an interview with Igor Tulchinsky

February 16, 2017

WorldQuant Founder and CEO Igor Tulchinsky talks to Brunswick’s Beatriz Garcia about training a new generation of quants online.

WorldQuant University Appoints U.S. Navy Admiral James George Stavridis as Chairman of its Advisory Board

January 10, 2017

Current Dean of Fletcher School at Tufts University Joins University to Expand Educational Opportunities Throughout the World

WorldQuant University Named “Startup of the Year” by Education Dive

November 29, 2016

WorldQuant University’s tuition-free, online Master’s degree in Financial Engineering makes high-quality education accessible to students worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about financial engineering, data science, the University, our degree programs, and the admissions process.


Apply Online

Ready to get started? We will walk you through the application process and make sure you have everything you need.