Exploring the Barriers to online Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic. A case of Pakistani Students from HEIs [Higher Education Institutions]





Online barriers; Distance learning; University students; Online Experiences; COVID-19; Developing countries; Pakistan


The main objective of this study is to explore various barriers that are preventing Pakistani HEIs (universities) students from learning online in this COVID-19 pandemic. Applying a qualitative research design, twelve (12) in-depth interviews were conducted with individual business school participants (students), selected at undergraduate and graduate levels to participate. Data were collected from six (06) universities in Islamabad, Pakistan. After collecting the data using a self-developed questionnaire, a thematic analysis method within the qualitative research was applied to uncover several barriers relating to the objective of this study. Eight themes emerged from the interview data: internet technology access, the content of digital slides, student’s perception towards online learning, power outages during COVID-19 pandemic, students’ fear of losing marks and impact on employment, faculty skills in using technology to teach online, student’s stress and health in the COVID-19 pandemic and student skills to use distance learning tools. Based on the findings, students who live in rural areas are more affected by online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic than students in urban areas due to identified barriers and, most importantly, lack of technology infrastructure. Opportunities and future recommendations have been provided to the relevant authorities to conduct and deliver smooth online education in the country during pandemic.


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Author Biographies

Muhammad Arsalan Nazir, Bahria University Business School Islamabad Campus, Pakistan

is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Faculty of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Bahria University of Business School, Islamabad, Pakistan. He holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Small Business Management from the University of Teesside Business School, UK. He also obtained an MBA in General Management from Cardiff Metropolitan University and MSc in Marketing and Business Management from the University of Bedfordshire School of Business, UK. Currently he is a candidate for Certified Management Accountant (CMA), USA. While working in a private sector based in London, he further has extensive experience in SMEs and entrepreneurship growth in the context of developed and emerging economies in different regions of the world, and in particular in South Asia. He has presented papers at international conferences and his research and publications have specifically focused on the development of digital information and communication technology applications related to e-commerce and innovation in SMEs. The objective is to determine the growth of technological entrepreneurship capacities, then to compare the results with those of other regional actors in the Asian and Western context. He is also a fellow of the British Academy of Management (BAM), UK and a reviewer of several peer-reviewed journals

Mohsin Raza Khan, Bahria University Business School Islamabad Campus, Pakistan

is a Public Finance Management Specialist with a decade of professional experience in Financial Management, Accounting, and Taxation. He has earned his doctorate in 2018 from Bahria University Islamabad with a major in finance. He has worked on a project to assessed Baluchistan's Revenue Potential and has devised a Revenue Mobilization Strategy for the province. He has also worked with the World Bank as The National Health Financing Consultant. Currently is serving as an Assistant Professor at the Bahria Business School, Bahria University Islamabad. His research areas are PFM, and Health Financing.


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How to Cite

Nazir, M. A., & Khan, M. R. (2021). Exploring the Barriers to online Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic. A case of Pakistani Students from HEIs [Higher Education Institutions]. GIST – Education and Learning Research Journal, 23, 81–106. https://doi.org/10.26817/16925777.1195