Sustainability aspects of distance learning in higher education during the COVID-19 epidemic in a Hungarian University

Economic Annals-ХХI: Volume 190, Issue 5-6(2), Pages: 58-74

Citation information:
Pinter, E., Fenyvesi, E., & Pinter, T. (2021). Sustainability aspects of distance learning in higher education during the COVID-19 epidemic in a Hungarian University. Economic Annals-XXI, 190(5-6(2)), 58-74. doi:

Eva Pinter
PhD (Economics),
Associate Professor,
Department of Computer Science,
Institute of Informatics,
Corvinus University of Budapest
8 Fővám Str., Budapest, 1093, Hungary

Eva Fenyvesi
PhD (Economics),
College Professor,
Department of Economics and Business Studies,
Faculty of Commerce, Hospitality and Tourism,
Budapest Business School
9-11 Alkotmány Str., Budapest, 1054, Hungary

Tibor Pinter
PhD (Regional Sciences),
College Associate Professor,
Department of Economics and Business Studies,
Faculty of Commerce, Hospitality and Tourism,
Budapest Business School
9-11 Alkotmány Str., Budapest, 1054, Hungary

Sustainability aspects of distance learning in higher education during the COVID-19 epidemic in a Hungarian University

Our paper explores the impacts and sustainability of remote and online education framework introduced as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic in the case of two subjects (Macroeconomics and International Economics) taught at the Faculty of Commerce, Hospitality and Tourism, Budapest Business School. In our study we focused on specific aspects of shifting from traditional in-class learning to online education at our university. The most important pillars of the shift were the online implementation of all lessons, communication and examinations. We analyzed the measures of the education change, the effects of the change on the final results of the students and introduced the experiences of our students and teachers in this period, reflecting on the principles of sustainability. The primary data required for the analysis were diaries maintained by teachers and information available through the electronic study systems supporting online learning (CooSpace, Neptun), as well as student and teacher questionnaires and teacher interviews. The results for both subjects show that, despite the unmodified difficulty level of the exam questions, student performance improved during the remote learning period, that is, the learning process complies with the principles of sustainability. The implications of the study are therefore as follows: the coronavirus changed the educational framework of our university; the performance of students improved on both subjects; preparation time for teachers has increased, exam preparation time for students has also increased; consequently, online solutions used in distance learning period have changed the attitudes of the students and teachers as well. In the absence of personal feedback opportunities, regular monitoring tools were positively received by students, however, digital inequalities and previously less common tasks were more challenging for them. The experiences of the first semester affected by the epidemic were and can be utilized in later semesters as well.

Keywords: COVID-19 Pandemic; Online Learning; Distance Education; Sustainable Learning; Sustainable Lecturing; Teaching Methods; Universities; Efficiency

JEL Classification: M21; O31

Acknowledgements and Funding: The authors received no direct funding for this research.

Contribution: The authors contributed equally to this work.

Data Availability Statement: 
The dataset is available from the authors upon request.



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Received 9.04.2021
Received in revised form 11.05.2021
Accepted 16.05.2021
Available online 10.07.2021