Higher Education

The closure of campuses, initial print supply chain disruption, and the accelerated reliance on digital resources for research and distance learning meant a move to virtual delivery was almost instant. Though print sales were, as expected, significantly down, there was a remarkable surge in eBooks, online products and digital resources. Our English Language Teaching (ELT) Division experienced a most challenging year with the biggest impacts of the pandemic felt in private language schools and emerging markets, with Latin America impacted on both counts.

Moving forward, there is a mixed picture regarding the return to print. While UK and US customer data shows that now instructors and lecturers have transitioned to digital, many in India returned to print where possible. Nonetheless, there were 370 higher education titles published over the year.

There was a requirement for close collaboration and flexible business models to meet customer needs:

  • Universities faced economic pressure due to uncertainty around student enrolments. Library budgets came under further pressure as universities navigated campus closures and digital materials were needed quickly
  • India students experienced a delayed start to the academic year which resulted in lower sales. However, rising interest in online skill courses in emerging tech areas such as blockchain, cyber-security, and data analytics resulted in a fruitful partnership with Grant Thornton
  • There was continued growth of the Inclusive Access (IA) model in the US and we expect this will scale out to Canada and other geographies. IA is where students are automatically subscribed as a group when they enrol on to a course, rather than purchasing digital access individually
  • In Australia, the higher education sector was significantly impacted by the dramatic reduction in international travel

Digital resource downloads and site visits vastly increased with visits up (229.7 per cent) and visits with content engagement more than trebling, with a 235.6 per cent increase

Strong performance for all higher education online products

Increased demand for digital support materials for lecturers in some parts of the world, as they adapted to online and hybrid learning

Providing temporary free access to higher education digital resources as the pandemic broke out and students moving to distance learning was in keeping with our mission:

  • We signed an agreement with the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) which enabled universities to reuse a higher proportion of our texts. The improved terms allowed institutions to share 30 per cent of a book (up from 10 per cent) until the end of June 2020
  • In North America, access to titles was provided by RedShelf and VitalSource. In the UK, access was provided via Kortext and BibliU
  • We provided 1,000 faculty members with free digital content in India. We also made use of webinars (32 in total) to provide opportunities for more than 9,000 instructors and students to interact directly with Oxford University Press authors.

We provided


faculty members with free digital content in India

We provided opportunities for more than


instructors and students to interact directly with Oxford University Press authors

Significant publishing projects included the launch of Oxford Insight courseware and Oxford Insight Study Guides in North America. Others from Epigeum, part of Oxford University Press, included Supervising Doctoral Studies Second Edition, the launch of the Research Methods programme, our second phase in the re-development of our flagship researcher training suite into the Research Skills Toolkit, and Being Well, Living Well, a digital course for students.

And other major successes from the year included the amount of people who accessed the Politics Trove and Law Trove, both leading online resources available in universities across the UK. Law Trove went up by one million visits year-on-year, a 200 per cent increase. Forty-nine titles were published in an enhanced eBook programme.

We also surveyed Australian undergraduates on the importance of soft skills as part of their higher education, reflecting analysis that employers are placing a greater emphasis on soft skills as the nature of work becomes increasingly flexible.

Higher Education case studies

Being Well, Living Well

Helping students succeed with Oxford Insights