Universities of the Future Global Summit

As part of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) Research Week 2016, UOC organised a global summit held in Barcelona, Spain, on 20-21 April 2016 entitled “The Universities of the Future: Educational and Organizational Challenges”. The main aims of the global summit were to create a global network of researchers interested in the future of universities and debate and discuss the main challenges facing universities from educational and organisational perspectives.

The participants agreed to formally establish and grow a global network for the discussion and application of policies and strategies for transforming universities in order to respond to learners’ needs and expectations. The aims and discussions of the network will be disseminated through a website, a report of the summit as well as the preparation of a special issue of a journal to share our view of the major challenges facing universities in the future.

The debates and discussions related to:

Access and Models: Equality and Inclusion in Universities of the Future

  • Application of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive, equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  • Expanding access to universities requires a balancing of massification and diversification.
  • University expansion of access is necessary for social justice and the improvement of societies.
  • Universal Design for Learning can be used to improve accessibility.

Curriculum Development, Teaching and Quality Frameworks

  • There is convergence in traditional, blended and online delivery models.
  • The importance of co-production of curricula with relevant stakeholders.
  • Improvement of curricula through combining cross-disciplinary approaches together with disciplinary knowledge.
  • A focus on learning skills development for both staff and students.
  • Achieving a balance in research and teaching, depending on institutional context.

Business Modelling and Sustainability

  • The global context is driving challenges in financing and sustainability.
  • There is no single business model for universities, but many models of universities for the future.
  • To define a business model, consider value creation, delivery and capture.
  • The Business Model Canvas considers the interplay of 9 different dimensions.

Research and Policy

  • Research, policy and practice are linked and research is framed by policy.
  • Universities need to negotiate their research priorities and how research is funded.
  • Different and relevant methodologies are needed. Design-based implementation research is one method for educational research.
  • A focus on both theoretical and applied (societal problems) research is required.

Linking Universities, Industry and Graduate Employment

  • Graduates are being employed in increasingly knowledge-based societies.
  • Industry and university linkages need to be permeable and open.
  • The notion of the traditional student is disappearing, there are several different profiles of students with different needs.
  • Graduates require soft skills as well as interdisciplinary knowledge.
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