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Are our universities future proof?

Mona Pradella

Mona Pradella

Feb 27, 2018

Experts argue that contemporary issues are 'threatening' our current higher education model: Employer and student expectations, technological disruption, or reduced government funding. Are our universities responding - and adapting - to our rapidly developing world to stay relevant? Studiosity Founder and Executive Chair Jack Goodman says they haven't yet.

Goodman says Australian universities are resisting change. So are all our 40 universities "too similar" - are they based on a standard model that was developed some time ago, and hasn't been adapted fast enough? Are they as open, innovative, or accessible as they could be?


The homogenity of our university landscape limits innovation

In his latest piece, "Vive la résistance: The persistence of the university education model in a rapidly changing world" published in Campus Review, Jack writes that universities are put "at risk of disruption the same way an endangered population of animals with too little genetic diversity is at risk of extinction."

Goodman cites American economist Kenneth Rogoff who believes "the time has come" for our universities to accept that they need to differentiate themselves from each other, for instance, by utilising technology to reinvent themselves to stay relevant.

However, the over-commercialisation of public universities is feared by many. Does the student experience come first or are we playing its value down for commercial gain? For instance, some see the boom of the international student market "as evidence of the sector’s ability to innovate," others see it as a threat to the institutional knowledge-seeking purpose.

Is the standard model of university education future-proof?


The framework for change

Goodman argues that there is one question no one seems to be asking:

Can we expect our universities to change for the sake of transformation itself?

"Universities are legislated to be permanent government institutions, and, on the whole, they have done an exceptional job fulfilling their dual roles as centers of teaching and research. Davis recognises this with his recommendation that a new policy direction, set by academics and seasoned bureaucrats, needs to be developed to provide the framework for change for the sector." 

Goodman reiterates that "this sort of change can’t just be legislated into being." Cultural transformation is a prerequisite for change. The key to future-proofing our university landscape appears to be incrementalism - nothing changes over night, and we can only work together to shape the future of higher education - and ultimately pave the way for graduate success - with accessible, equitable, and relevant degrees. 

Jack Goodman's article Vive la résistance: The persistence of the university education model in a rapidly changing world was originally published in Campus Review, in February 2018.  


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