People Driving the (R)evolution in #HigherEd; Not Technology

unit4-business-software-squarelogo-1372242144321Published October 18, 2013 by Unit4, Written by Ms. Sally Ellis

I’ve just read a report by the OBHE (Observatory on Borderless Higher Education) highlighting how it thinks things will have changed by 2020, and it’s not quite as dramatic as some of the other predictions I’ve seen, and have even been made by my colleagues!

We constantly hear how technology is redefining the shape of HE, but instead of conforming to this popular view, the report states that its people that are driving the change, NOT technology. In many respects this is a fair assessment as technology supports the demands of students, academics and administrative staff helping them to work better, faster and more flexibly. And it’s their demands that are driving technology to evolve. This is something we know at UNIT4 because we’ve been working in partnership with some of the world’s top universities to understand their demands and create software that goes over and above what institutions have come to expect. Both universities we worked with acted as early adopters of the software and the Research Costing and Pricing solution we developed to meet the needs of modern HEIs is now readily available.

UNIT4 attended the Educause event in Anaheim this week, and the word on everyone’s lips was change. People are READY for change, and ready for the software and technology that can bring it about. So, whilst I agree in part with the OBHE that people drive change, without the technology that has been created and innovated by research and development teams people wouldn’t be able to force through the transformations they want.

I readily subscribe to the view that academic provision and accreditation are unbundling too; the rise of MOOCs are starting to change people’s perceptions of study- how and when you can do it. Unbundling will allow more students from diverse backgrounds across the world easy access to education, which will be a fantastic change.

It’s an interesting point that the globalisation of HE will slow down, but again it makes sense – it can only keep growing for so long until the sector become saturated. I think however, that we will continue to see a rise in global partnerships between institutions themselves and between businesses and institutions. Businesses will help to play a more central role in education as the competitive jobs market continues. Companies will influence the shape of certain courses, creating students who can fit the roles they need to fill, and in turn making sure more graduates are in work.

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