Mina Sotiriou Michele Giovanardi

The role of private and public educational providers in the digital post-Covid world



The paper discusses and investigates the differences in the aims, purpose and roles of public Higher education institutions and private sector actors in digital education. Specifically, we discuss whether big tech multinationals play an invasive role in the educational arena that risks undermining the role of traditional public sector Higher education institutions and, therefore, whether we need digital education governance and what kind. The paper uses secondary data and critically evaluates opposing arguments in the literature to analyse and investigate theories and practices of educational offering in both the private and public sectors, arguing that: (1) there are differences between Higher education teaching & learning (public domain) and training and professional development (private domain) purposes; (2) tech companies like Microsoft and Alphabet (private) have a role to play in the knowledge-based economy especially in the post- Covid era; (3) this prompts the need for public funded Higher education institutions to work with industry to become more entrepreneurial and re-design their pedagogy by incorporating some of the best-practices in digital education; (4) we need independent instruments and institutions to safeguard our citizens and communities of learners; (5) and finally, argue that public investment in digital education should increase accordingly to enable universities to meet these new educational challenges. The paper does not position the analysis within a specific framework but rather presents a focus for discussion of current issues, located within a theoretical context. It is concluded that any «threat» publicly funded Higher education Institutions may face in the current commercialised educational world, is the result of outdated educational practices and a misconception of the roles and missions of public and private institutions in education. As such, we do not need stringent governance of digital education but a better digital education framework


  • Higher education
  • EdTech
  • Covid
  • Private
  • Public


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