Education as a Service

Implications and Challenges to Rethink the University of the Future after Covid-19

  • Ana Torres ISCA, Universidade de Aveiro & INESC TEC
  • Gabriela Beirão INESC TEC & FEUP, Universidade do Porto
  • Júlia Pereira INESC TEC & FEUP, Universidade do Porto


This paper highlights that social distancing is prompting educational institutions to rethink how they are connecting with their student bodies. Spatial interaction is becoming the new norm, and the blurring of physical and virtual communication is likely to continue until the pandemic is overcome. Globally, the higher education system will undergo a decade of radical technology-led transformation shifting the paradigm from the traditional linear formulation of education to the "University as a Service". The AI-enabled tools will provide customized learning experiences, and continuing education will become the norm. The university of the future will learn from personalization – e.g., students’ expectations and data assessment - to support a diversity of learning pathways to study the same content. The "Education as a Service" will be able to pinpoint each student's learning needs, re-design the service-education system, and provide a personalized experience. This research aims to understand how universities need to be transformed based on the challenges faced by professors and students during COVID-19. Using qualitative research methodology, 17 professors and 13 students from six countries were interviewed to explore the challenges of blended learning in higher education. Like other services, the education service will be reshaped and customized. Students are value co-creators of the learning process, and they need more active and collaborative methodologies. The most important factors to enable revolutionizing how we educate after COVID-19 are: technological tools, as they provide personal learning experiences on-demand, and communities of practice, where students will learn from each other. This paper provides several contributions to the University of the future, aiming to respond to "Education as a service" challenges.