Webinar to explore young universities’ success in driving innovation, digital transformation

The Times Higher Education Young Universities webinar will also mark the launch of the 2020 THE Young University Rankings

June 18, 2020
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Older universities have traditionally enjoyed the advantage of centuries-old reputations for academic prowess and impressive campus architecture when recruiting prospective students and staff. But the move to digital learning spaces during the coronavirus pandemic has diminished this edge. Now, an institution’s ability to provide online teaching and a student experience competently has become a critical factor when students assess their options.

It is thus an opportune time for young universities (under 50 years old) to demonstrate their dynamism and their unique understanding of the values increasingly prized by students, such as sustainability and meaningful partnerships. Their success in this mission will be debated at the virtual Times Higher Education Young Universities webinar on 24 June.

Starting at 08:55 BST, the webinar will comprise a series of sessions exploring the impact of young universities on sustainable development, research and blended learning. The event will also mark the launch of this year’s THE Young University Rankings.

Elizabeth Shepherd, managing director of consultancy services at THE, said: “The global higher education sector thrives on diversity, which in turn supports innovation, overall quality assurance and student choice. The Young University Rankings represent a great celebration of the strength of diversity throughout the sector.”

Online learning platform Coursera will deliver a session showcasing how young universities are the best poised to drive digital transformation in higher education. Anthony Tattersall, who heads Coursera’s offices across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will illustrate the positive outcomes of blended learning using the company’s data, exploring such areas as reskilling current programmes, boosting alumni engagement and fostering education even after graduation.

In another session, Ms Shepherd and Michael Lubacz, brand director at THE, will analyse how these institutions are making long-term contributions to the global community, especially in regard to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It’s exciting to see how young universities in India, Chile, Australia, Brazil and Iran are driving forward agendas within their own communities linked to SDG 5 – Gender equality; SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure; and SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production,” said Ms Shepherd.

The THE Young University Rankings launch will follow as part of a larger masterclass examining the progress of these institutions in 2020, led by Roy Boverhof, senior data scientist at Elsevier, and Duncan Ross, chief data officer at THE.

Despite the advantages young universities may have over their predecessors in communicating effectively to today’s students, the health crisis still poses inevitable threats to their long-term objectives, an issue that will be deliberated by Nick Fowler, chief academic officer at Elsevier.

In an Elsevier session titled “Young and agile or more fragile?”, panellists will explore how moving beyond the current pandemic to a post-Covid scenario might affect young universities, many of which are still establishing their brand and reach.

“Are they able to adapt more quickly to a changing landscape, or are they more exposed and vulnerable compared with well-established players?” said Anders Karlsson, vice-president of global strategic networks at Elsevier.

“Understanding and celebrating the contribution made by these institutions, we hope, will benefit their students, their local communities and the industries to which they continue to support through a uniquely challenging period,” Ms Shepherd concluded.

leah.reitman@timeshighereducation.com

Find out more and register for the virtual Young Universities webinar on 24 June.

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