Universities are clearly at a fork in the road, however, with the right vision that blends new more real world and exploratory pedagogy with a greater flexibility – a more personalised experience for learners will result.
We will need to renew our learning spaces, trial and blend our learning and teaching practices to match the new generations and create greater flexibility for supporting these more personalised learning experiences. But the advantages will be beneficial in numerous ways: better alignment with the workplace, proactive dialogue with our communities and social support for real world problems through translational research and work and community integrated learning outcomes.
To achieve this, we will also have to find new ways to collaborate more closely as a sector and work more closely with industry.
With rising numbers of global and lifelong students, open access to universities within and beyond the undergraduate curriculum, ease of access to high quality learning materials and lifelong learning for all, the future is not as uncertain as many commentators would like to think… In fact the need for learning is growing significantly and the requirements of re-education are gaining with every career change we take. Clearly the need for high quality education is not decreasing and is set to continue to grow with new markets of on shore and off shore learners.
The Generation Zers coming into our universities will present us with challenges for sure, but in the end they are just a new generation of learners who need to be scaffolded through the learning process like any other generation. They want to be inspired to learn more from subject specialists and want to emerge from the hallowed halls of universities globally competitive and ready to make their unique contribution to the workplace. They may face greater chances of unemployment and need a wider range of soft skills, but most universities are well prepared and resourced to provide an excellent education using methods that are financially sustainable and quality that can be assessed to a high standard.