Innovation in Research and Knowledge Transfer.Innovation in Student Support and Supporting Learning Experience.Innovation in Quality and Continuous Improvement.
Editor at Large for Times Higher Education @timeshighered & Editor of the World University Rankings @THEWorldUniRank. Personal views.
Over the past few years, there have been a lot of discussions about the shifting role of higher education and the public perception about universities and colleges being social institutions playing a pivotal role in the stability, development and economic prosperity ofsociety.
In the early years, higher education was more concerned with producing graduate students who are “perfect” citizens; later this objective was shifted to ensure that these citizens are‘well- trained’ and developed as lifelong learners; more recently the focus has further shifted to ensure that institutions of learning produce graduate students who are: creative, innovative and entrepreneurial members of the society able to effectively contribute to the development of their communities. Universities and Colleges are expected to act as creators, repositories and disseminators of knowledge, as hubs for research and innovation, and cultivators of entrepreneurial thinking. They need to ensure they can remain relevant to the needs of the society and engage with various stakeholders at multiple levels.
Educational institutions have created an imperative to develop members of the society with the 21st century skills, to enable them to address global challenges and prepare them to become leaders and innovators; as such many educational reforms and initiatives have taken place globally to encourage research, entrepreneurship and innovation in
education generally and in higher education more specifically.
Research, innovation and entrepreneurship are seen today asa perquisite forthe long-term economic growth of nations. The term ‘innovation’ is frequently used to describe the generation of new ideas, products, collaborations, services and solutions that can be implemented and used. It is often linked to sustainability, growth and competitiveness of organizations and nations as a whole. According to a study conducted by IBM’s Global Business Services (2006), innovation is vital to growth and sustainability in the current era of rapid change and globalization. Innovation has become essential to boththe success of individuals and to the economic growth of nations. Barak Obama in 2010 spoke about the importance of innovation saying “The key to our success…will be to compete by developing new products, by generating new industries, by maintaining our role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation. It’s absolutely essential to our future.” Making innovation-driven growth happen requires action on a wide range of policy areas, from education and science and technology to product and labor markets and trade.
Furthermore, the impact of recent economic downturn, the rapidly changing economic environment, the emergence of knowledge and digital societies, globalization and internationalization, ICT developments, and the massification and expansion of the educational landscape have all forced leaders of higher education to question what the future of their institutions will be? How will they be able to sustain in a highly competitive and global world? What challenges they must be ready to face? And how are new trends and innovation impacting their core functions and enabling them to remain sustainable and competitive?
Similarly to other sectors of the economy, educational institutions are placed under pressure to constantly innovate and find creative ways to face the many challenges and continuously changing dynamics of education.