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COVID-19 and rapid digitalization of learning and teaching: quality assurance issues and solutions in a Sino-foreign higher education institution

Stuart Perrin (Entrepreneur College (Taicang), Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Suzhou China)
Ling Wang (School of Languages, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Suzhou China)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 13 September 2021



This paper aims to report and analyze the lessons learnt from a case study of the implementation of the move from onsite to online learning at a Sino-Foreign higher education institution.


This paper reports a case study based on an analysis of three elements of the move to digital education during the COVID-19 pandemic. In suggesting three elements, it argues that the first and most immediate move away from onsite teaching should be thought of as emergency response teaching, and it is the lessons learnt from this vital and necessary stage that have informed the subsequent implementation of a more digitalization process.


The case study identifies the journey that the university is going through to deliver digitalized education, and how the pandemic hastened what had already been started. It illustrates how the pandemic has been useful in highlighting where we are, what decisions have been made and what still needs to be done with regard to readiness for the disruption likely by Industry 4.0.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted at one institution, which along with eight other similar institutions is unique within China. Findings, especially the processes of making decisions, while relevant to the wider discussion on digitalization and Industry 4.0, should also be considered in this light.

Practical implications

While the focus of the paper is on COVID-19 and Rapid Digitalization of Learning and Teaching, the main implication is that universities need to better prepare their teaching staff for digitalized education, especially if they are wanting to engage with disruption brought about by Industry 4.0.


The paper is based on a single university case study of a rather unique university within China. The discussion illustrates the need for flexibility and decisiveness in making key decisions on managing disruption, but with strategic direction in mind, illustrated in the study by COVID-19, but with future digitalization initiatives also to the fore.



The authors would like to extend their thanks to the editor and reviewers for suggestions which resulted in improvement in the quality of the paper. In addition, we would like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of staff and students during the recent pandemic in ensuring quality learning and teaching took place.


Perrin, S. and Wang, L. (2021), "COVID-19 and rapid digitalization of learning and teaching: quality assurance issues and solutions in a Sino-foreign higher education institution", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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