Young Universities Summit prioritises inclusivity within digital transformation

Prestigious speakers lined up for free-to-attend THE event

June 21, 2021
Library with individual study area with red partition and green sofa
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The unique vantage point that young universities (defined as those established after 1945) boast when adapting their institutional design and practices to meet the needs of Covid-era students will be discussed at the virtual Times Higher Education Young Universities Summit 2021 on 22-23 June. It will contend with the common misconception that only older – and arguably more prestigious – universities can equip applicants with the skills most suited to their chosen career path.

Phil Baty, THE’s chief knowledge officer, said: “While younger universities usually lack the reputation, and often the accumulated wealth and resources that come with centuries of history, I’ve always said that they have one great advantage over their older counterparts: they are unencumbered by the weight of tradition and are more able to be agile, risk-taking and innovative.”

This two-day event, in partnership with the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University) in Moscow, will explore building a world-class reputation, delivering impactful research, the power of place, and what advantage younger universities have in demonstrating progressive digital transformation. Speakers from around the world will convene in a series of panel discussions and keynote addresses, and the summit will also mark the exclusive live reveal of the Young University Rankings 2021, complemented by an in-depth data masterclass.

Yaroslav Kuzminov, rector of HSE University, said: “Over the course of two days, all the virtual summit participants will discuss the consequences of the changes taking place in the world and their impact on all aspects of universities' life – educational activities, student experience, research and innovation, the civic role of universities, and other important issues.”

The opening keynote will include insights from Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford, and Jamil Salmi, emeritus professor of higher education policy at Diego Portales University, on how the pandemic has expedited and stretched the technological capabilities of universities, and how young universities have provided solutions for those at risk of being left behind in the digital divide. Avinash Chandra Pandey, director of the Inter-University Accelerator Centre at the University Grants Commission, and Ellen Hazelkorn, professor emerita at Technological University Dublin and co-investigator at the Centre for Global Higher Education, will consider the role of government in ensuring that maintaining a national standard for excellence in higher education is a priority.

The following in-conversation, led by Louise Simpson, founder and director of the World 100 Reputation Network, will investigate whether age and university reputation are intrinsically linked, and how metrics for quality education have shifted to reflect the push for more diversity within the sector, with input from Ilkka Niemelä, president of Aalto University. These ideas will be explored further in the subsequent launch of the Young University Rankings.

Mr Baty added: “This event comes at a pivotal moment for the younger generation of universities: can they continue to lead the way in establishing new ways of doing things? Are they better prepared for the dramatic disruption promised by the great acceleration of digital teaching and learning? How can they forge their individual reputation and brands in a crowded, competitive global sector? How can they harness the extraordinary social and impact we’ve seen through the pandemic, and can they live up to their promise to become the next generation Harvards and Oxfords?”

The final three panels on the first day will examine the changing research culture in universities because of the pandemic, ensuring that university research and its community’s civic missions are directly correlated, and the numerous benefits of capitalising on the potential of the humanities and social sciences, in addition to STEM subjects, to tackle the ongoing effects of Covid-19.

The second day’s discussions will include: the importance of civic engagement within universities to address societal needs, how collaboration with university and industry can ensure an economic yet sustainable recovery from the pandemic, and how digital innovation can be utilised post-Covid to create a more inclusive environment on campus, complementing the restoration of physical attendance.

“We hope that the upcoming summit will contribute to the further improvement of education, the introduction of new technologies, and the increased accessibility of higher education to everyone around the world,” concluded Professor Kuzminov.

Click here to register for the virtual Times Higher Education Young Universities Summit 2021 on 22-23 June

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