The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Functions and Services of Registrars’ Offices in BC Post-Secondary Institutions

Author: T. James | Published: Mar 20, 2023

Post-secondary institutions in British Columbia and elsewhere were forced to react quickly and boldly when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in early 2020. The pandemic had unforeseen consequences, but it also created opportunities for new approaches to institutional systems and service delivery.
This study evaluates the impact of the pandemic on services provided by Registrars’ Offices at the BC Transfer System’s 39 post-secondary member institutions. The research included a literature review, an online survey, and interviews.
While the Office of the Registrar was only one of many areas dramatically affected at most institutions, the impact of the pandemic on the work of Registrars’ Offices was immediate and widespread. The areas experiencing the most impact were recruitment, class scheduling and convocation. Service delivery was largely impacted by moving operations to online delivery and by staff working at home. Policies and procedures were also temporarily amended at many institutions.
The main pandemic-related challenges identified by participants were constant revising of plans and schedules, staff fatigue over time, and responding to student anxiety. Most participants reported that their offices successfully met most of the challenges that were experienced.
This study provides recommendations for institutional practice and further research.
• Institutions should continue to explore ways to improve service delivery in both online and in-person formats.
• Where changes in response to the pandemic resulted in improved service delivery, institutions should consider maintaining those changes.
• Institutions should consider continuing flexible staff work arrangements where feasible, but allow such arrangements to be guided by a balance of individual choice and institutional need.
• Research on the impact of the pandemic on students and instructional faculty would broaden the picture.
• A comparison of differences in impacts across a wider range of jurisdictions may be another direction for further study.
• Investigation of the long-term impacts of the pandemic may provide further insights.