Change HE provision to cater for millennials, conference told

Universities will need to abandon present ‘constipated’ models and follow Uber’s lead to appeal to prospective students

January 16, 2017
Birmingham Color run 2016. Young people with selfie sticks
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Uber world: the change the world was undergoing was about ‘millennialisation’ rather than globalisation, said the chief executive of Roots Millennium Schools in Pakistan

Universities should tailor their academic offer to address the increasing “millennialisation” of the prospective student body, a conference has heard.

Speaking on a panel at the International Partners’ Conference 2017, Chaudhry Faisal Mushtaq, chief executive of Roots Millennium Schools in Pakistan, said that higher education in the future is “going to be like [digital cab firm] Uber” because universities are faced with attracting a cohort of students armed with a “new set of values and culture”. He added that institutions must alter their offer to accommodate this.

“If you can uber a cab, you will be able to uber a qualification [or] a university,” he told the audience at Regent’s University London. “When you uber, it’s about reliability; it’s about access, cost and security.

“Now when you look at higher education, you want reliability, access – local access, international reliability – and you want success [and] security in terms of job[s] and opportunity.”

He said that the change the world was undergoing was about “millennialisation” rather than globalisation. “You’re dealing with this new cohort of millennials: young people bound with a new set of values and culture. We learn in different styles and different ways.”

Asked by Times Higher Education to expand on the extent to which a university would have to adopt Uber’s model to adjust to the demands of “millennialisation”, Mr Mushtaq said that the world was “already ubering” and that universities had to act now to adapt their “constipated” learning delivery models.

“Our students, I get them scholarships into Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Oxford and Cambridge. [One] good student refused to go to Harvard and started studying for a University of London international degree in Pakistan. How could a child in the world refuse to go to Harvard? [It’s because] students’ lifestyles are shaping learning styles.

“[The] saturated, scientific, constipated delivery models will [cease] to exist.”

While agreeing with some elements of Mr Mushtaq’s arguments, Fernando León-Garcia, president of the CETYS University system, said he believed that there was still a place for current models of academic delivery.

“I believe that the way you look on balance at developed countries and least developed countries, there will be a mixture of institutions. There will be the new institutions [that adapt to the demands of millennials],” he said.

“There will also be a need for the more residential type of education. It might be for a diminishing percentage of the population, but there will be those who will value it. Then there will be those that provide a mixture."

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Reader's comments (2)

I would have been intrigued to learn how universities could adopt Uber's strategies and how millenials will benefit from being taught in an even more exploitative business model, but sadly Mr Mushtaq did not elaborate beyond "Uber means Uber".
I thought the system had already been "uberised"? We currently have the majority of students graduating and being extremely pleased with their time at university, only to find that ten years later, if they're a man and went to one of the 23 bottom performing universities, they're earning less than an equivalent school leaver. Over 60% of graduates aren't in graduate-type employment. Their degree in gluing and sticking turns out not to have any value, which explains why in 2040, when total student indebtedness peaks at £1 trillion, half of it won't be repaid. The worst performing universities are merely finding out what my Gran used to say; "You can't polish a turd".

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