It’s a Brand New World

by Eddie Rayner

By Professor Amitabh Upadhya, President, Global Business Studies (GBS) Dubai

Higher Education today is a specialised commodity that is pursued in the quest of not only wisdom but also employability. Moreover, it aids young people in acquiring an accomplished and dexterous personality for coping with life challenges of the future; the unknown and exotic future – glimpses of which humanity is experiencing in the form of a pandemic that has gripped all walks of life. 

Professor Amitabh Upadhya, President, Global Business Studies (GBS) Dubai

As regards the higher education scenario in the UAE and its progress in the last few decades, it has been a chequered path of experiments and experiences that are consolidating now in a standardised and qualitative form.  The UAE is home to over 200 nationalities, who find the country safe and secure with a plethora of opportunities in all spheres of contemporary life and a modern state with excellent infrastructure.

In the last couple of decades, the UAE has been encouraging global higher education institutions to establish their campuses and/or programmes in the country, making the UAE a preferred education destination for students from all over the globe, especially from Eastern Europe, South and East Asia, the Middle East and Africa, as well as locally settled residents and UAE nationals. This is because of a wide variety of programmes and a wider variety of specialisations available in one destination. 

The Covid-19 situation presented an opportunity in disguise, whereby many forward-looking institutions upgraded their course delivery mode to online. This was found to be very successful, mainly because the technical and internet facilities, and the motivated teachers and trainers of UAE, were very much up to the challenge. The UAE is arguably the most tech-savvy country in the world, especially the student-teacher communities, making it the right choice to continue higher education in the UAE, avoiding any risky travel and opening up a new possibility of hybrid teaching and learning with enhanced audio-visual content.  

The quality of higher education has hitherto been measured in terms of a few parameters that included quality of faculty and their research output, illustrious and successful alumni, location and accreditation, internationalisation and affordability, among other factors. The changing times required a lateral view to be examined and experimented with as regards the measure of excellence in higher education, especially the two above mentioned aspirations from higher education, namely employability and accomplished personality that is future-ready. 

The traditional teaching methodology of lecturing is giving way to facilitation and instruction to inquisition. As such, institutions that won’t adapt to the inquisitive minds of the new generation, who are already racing in the fast lane of the information super-highway created by the internet, will gradually lose steam. Excellence is equally a pursuit rather than a destination, and those who will keep walking on the path of excellence shall maintain high standards, which is what some of the newer entrants in the domain of higher education are providing. So the tone and colour of higher education tomorrow will be decided by the realisation that the student is a consumer of knowledge rather than a disciple.

The traditional teaching methodology of lecturing is giving way to facilitation and instruction to inquisition

We are staring at specialisations such as musiology (technology and music), philoscience (philosophy and science), mediconomy (medicine and economics), enviroculture (environmental and cultural studies) and many more such possibilities. Unlike straight-jackets, these are colourful and patterned accoutrements that are already visible in the favourite torn jeans of youngsters. The future is here – where are you!

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