Public Lecture on the Changing Landscape of Higher Education
The Changing Landscape of Higher Education Throughout the World was the topic of a public lecture at UKZN and hosted by the School of Management, IT and Governance.
The invited speaker was Professor Sid Nair, the Executive Director of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) in Mauritius.
Examining the direction of global Higher Education over the last 20 years, Nair discussed the employable attributes that were needed by graduates of the 21st Century and beyond, and whether universities were delivering on them. ‘If any university is to survive, or be competent enough, they need to do away with physical classroom teaching and move into the digital world because that is where the demand lies.’
As he called for the transformation of teaching and learning in order for universities to remain relevant.
Referring to statistics that indicate that six out of 10 graduates are employed while four out of 10 need to create their own employment, Nair urged universities to train students in entrepreneurial skills. He further encouraged senior management to revisit their mission to ensure that knowledge creation cuts across disciplines.
Nair listed didactic teaching as an educational module of the past and advocated for critical and creative thinking skills to be built into the curriculum. ‘We need to come up with the skillsets that we want our students to achieve by mapping out the curriculum accordingly,’ he said.
Using the T-Shaped model for professionals, Nair highlighted what employers were looking for in potential employees - a deep understanding of the discipline they qualified in, and the ability to apply the skills they have learned across any discipline.
Nair revealed the inability of universities to keep up with the skillsets needed by the labour market and said universities needed to upskill their lecturers to remain effective with online platforms. He advised universities to utilise their digital manual systems and to incorporate the soft skills into the curriculum in order to gain traction of employers from across the sectors of the economy.
He further underlined the stacking up of skills sets known as “micro-credentialing” as the future, and urged universities to consider subscribing to certification programmes.
Nair concluded by noting: ‘We need to change and we need to change fast. We need to adapt, and your research is what will help that change by assisting the university to change in the direction they are supposed to be going in.’
Words: Hlengiwe Precious Khwela
Photograph: Albert Hirasen