Higher educational institutions need to work more closely with businesses and students to develop courses, increasing employability and opportunities to succeed. This is according to the Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), speaking to a global audience at an Expo 2020 panel discussion on the future of higher education.
Professor Katie Normington was joined by Jonathan Nicholls, Senior Higher Education Adviser, FutureLearn and Sara Ahmedaziz, Chevening Scholar and Junior Egyptologist, with Professor Sir Steve Smith, UK Government International Education Champion chairing the discussion.
“At DMU we already have courses co-designed with businesses and this will continue. We will see a move away from knowledge – which, in four or five years can be out of date – and a bigger emphasis on skills, both technical and vocational skills.”
“The structure of courses will evolve so that modules will be taught in blocks, rather than the mixed timetables students currently have. Studying through blocks means you have a real sense of what you’re accruing and can take breaks between study modules,” commented Professor Normington
“At DMU we already have courses co-designed with businesses and this will continue”
Reflecting on the rapid changes the pandemic had prompted across the sector, the speakers agreed that the physical campus is an inherent part of university life, with remote learning having its limitations.
“A big part of the education experience is to be in the same room as other people. If you’re chairing a meeting, you can’t always make sure people are fairly brought into the discussion because you can’t read their body language. So, while remote learning is a trend that will continue, there will be a more blended approach to education in the future, offering students an experience that is more flexible around their needs.”
“A big part of the education experience is to be in the same room as other people”
The discussion was the first in a series of talks – hosted by Dr Manjeet Ridon, Provost of DMU Dubai – which ran throughout the afternoon at the UK Pavilion, in the heart of Expo 2020, Dubai’s six-month-long festival of global innovation.
Helen Grant, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education, chaired a discussion on the importance of girls’ education across the globe, while disability activist and entrepreneur Shani Dhanda led a debate on what role universities can play in inspiring and creating entrepreneurs.
The latter also featured DMU Creative Enterprises MA graduate Faith Moyosore Agboola, who founded an African writers’ network along with AFM Stories, which connects students and graduates to funding opportunities.