In view of the circumstances of COVID-19 and the almost complete digitalisation of all education, the question ‘What is the university’s right to exist’ became even more relevant. Futurologist Jacintha Schreerder and Talentexpert / Social tech entrepreneur Quincy Dalh take us along in what they learned from the sessions we organized at the end of 2020 with VU / UVA directors and Board members Mirjam van Praag and Geert ten Dam.
What have you encountered that surprised and / or amazed you?
What struck us is that the university is eager to change, but that a lot still needs to be done for actual system change or innovation. Education is stuck in certain systems and structures that can limit or hinder innovation. We also see that people like to cooperate with chain parties, although that seems to be in its infancy. What did not surprise us that much, but what is remarkable at this time, is that universities are also heavily driven by numbers. There is fierce competition between national and international programs. Moreover, the market has grown much larger in recent decades due to globalization. What is a shame about this mutual competition is that it is actually disastrous for cooperation in the chain and for sharing valuable knowledge. So what surprised us is the feeling that universities in particular can benefit from better cooperation between themselves.
What is the best question asked and why?
What incentives are there that now form the basis for how universities work and what do they contain that hinders innovation? Consider, for example, the valuation system and the financing system.
What is the biggest challenge you see?
Originally, a university is a fairly closed institute and environment. While we see that cooperation in the chain, such as with the business community, is important for knowledge sharing. Precisely because the university is no longer a monopolist in the field of knowledge. This knowledge sharing works both ways, whereby it is also important that knowledge from the market returns to the university, which does not happen automatically at the moment.
We also see that the role of a teacher will change even more in the coming years and that the new generation has a greater need for a coaching role. In addition, part of the education, partly initiated by COVID-19, will continue to be provided online. That has major consequences. Getting all the people on the floor will be challenging, but what we noticed most was the enormous benevolence of the drivers.
What example has inspired you or brought you new insights?
The British model in which education works much more closely with government.
Another good example: major macroeconomic shocks such as the corona crisis are accelerating trends that have been dormant for some time. Universities regularly found it difficult to keep up with the speed and developments in the market. Educational tech parties, for example, often had difficulty getting a foot in the door of the university, but they are of added value there. The corona crisis made it necessary to accelerate the implementation of technology to promote quality and accessible online education.
What would you like to pass on to anyone working on this topic?
Keep moving and stay visible with initiatives that could help universities.
What do you grant or hope for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area on this subject?
Firstly, a better chain approach and more opportunities for startups to offer support (sometimes broader than directly providing education) to educational institutions.
Second; what we like Young on Board made even sharper by this session is that universities are strongly anchored in our society. They have a solid, social position in the market with which they can and are allowed to take on their leading role even more in order to bring knowledge together and maintain the level. The coronavirus exposes even more the weak spots in our systems, such as the inequality of the spread of the virus and a further division in society. We see a university as the place to continue to have high-level social discussions with each other.
Which article, documentary or person gives a fresh or inspiring view on this topic and why?
Helping students individually, especially being there as a mentor. That is the future of the university lecturer according to education expert Prof. Eric Mazur and Balanski, professor of physics and applied physics at Harvard University. In this article you can read all about it.