The Role of Higher Education is Changing

In early August EduGrowth held their annual Melbourne EdTech Summit to celebrate 2 days of Bold Thinkers, Industry Change-makers and Education in Transformation. This year’s theme was Think Big, Drive Change, Transform Learning and as a firm from the sector for the sector the Summit was a fantastic opportunity for Wells Advisory to see how technology is disrupting higher education and the future of work.

A consistent theme underpinning the 18 sessions was a recognition the role of higher education is changing. Technology is fundamentally changing the way we all work, and no industry is immune. The increasing reliance on technology necessitates a shift in mindset: we must all become lifelong learners. Traditional higher education providers must also adopt this mindset to meet the increasing demand for reskilling and upskilling. Potential strategies that flow from this mindset could include:

  • Identifying unique micro-credentials which provide flexibility and allow students to build completely new structures and career paths;
  • Offering familiar, degree-like structures in new disciplines and seeing online as not only a delivery platform but an opportunity to embed new campuses in the metaverse (or the ‘metaversity’);
  • Identifying opportunities to actively cocreate with staff, students, and industry to transform the conversation around course design, student experience, research and the role of the physical campus;
  • Embedding sustainable ‘soft’ human and life skills into course work and assessment – like critical thinking, problem solving, active learning, and creativity – that will extend the life expectancy of a qualification and prepare graduates for the future of work;
  • Utilising technology, including artificial intelligence, to automate student administration processes like admissions, timetabling and results; and
  • Thinking creatively about strategic partnerships to augment higher education qualifications and better prepare graduates for lifelong learning so they can pivot into new roles and emerging disciplines.

The Summit showcased several examples of these strategies already in practice and highlighted the importance of collaboration between higher education providers, EdTech and industry. This means identifying a shared problem and building sustainable, long-term partnerships towards a shared goal.

While metaversities are still a (mostly) abstract concept, it is time for higher education to acknowledge degrees are not an end in themselves. Instead, they are the building blocks of careers, workforces, economies and society.

Jessica Price

Consultant

Wells Advisory