Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Death of the University 'Greatly Exaggerated'

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Death of the University 'Greatly Exaggerated'

Article excerpt

Chris Havergal hears scholars and entrepreneurs debating the impact of technology on teaching

Entrepreneurs who predict the death of the university have "no idea what they are talking about", Times Higher Education's World Academic Summit has been told.

Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, told the event that such prophets of doom were largely seeking "personal return" from investments that they made in technology.

"Some people in the private sector have argued that college will go away; those people have no idea what they are talking about," Professor Crow told the audience at the University of California, Berkeley. "[Some people think] that somehow technologies will be put in and take over what colleges will do; those people have no idea what they are talking about either.

"They are just largely people seeking some sort of personal return from investments that they might make in technologies."

While Professor Crow did not specify the technology evangelists he was referring to, a very different vision of the future had been offered in the preceding conference session by Ryan Craig, the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education.

Mr Craig, the managing director of investment firm University Ventures, said that higher education institutions were producing students who lacked the skills demanded by employers and that a degree was a "luxury that many cannot afford".

He argued that improved data about what employers wanted would allow students to identify their skills gaps and the best educational trajectory for themselves in the same way that a GPS satellite navigation device is designed to provide the best route for a journey.

In such a system, it would be better for most students to take shorter courses of 12 to 18 months in universities to develop the core "competencies" needed for their first job, and then return several years later to acquire the skills required for more specialised and managerial roles, Mr Craig said. …

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