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Are universities feeling the pressure to ‘keep up’ with digital transitions?

digital transitions
Digital transitions are everywhere in the education sector. Source: Shutterstock

While scrolling through potential university pages, it’s likely that many optional online courses or modules will pop up on your screen.

From the traditional to the technological, universities around the world are taking the plunge and introducing programmes that specialise in digital trends such as software programming, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Bracing for the impact of an interconnected future, universities are trying to keep up with these digital transitions by investing in high-tech research hubs and the future of work institutes.

By staying relevant and riding the tech wave, there’s a higher chance that academic institutions will stay afloat during uncertain times.

But according to Morgan State University President, the time for universities to ride that wave is now.

digital transitions

The digital transition is happening everywhere. Source: Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

Universities need to think digital

“What we are seeing is that some of the institutions are not moving fast enough to bring online some of these new degrees, be they degrees in data science, or artificial intelligence, cloud computing. How do you do that by preserving aspects of the liberal arts?

“That’s a discussion that we must continue to have, and we must come out on the other end with a HigherEd model that will still be true to what higher ed has traditionally been in the United States, which is still the model of the world. At the same time, how do we imbue our graduates now with the skills that are needed for the new economy and the new world? I think that is indeed the challenge,” Wilson explains in the EdCast.

Gradually, graduates are opting for online degrees and higher education systems are embracing them.

As previously highlighted by the Executive Director of Harvard Business School’s HBX, Patrick Mullane, “Universities see online education as a way to broaden their reach and more effectively fulfill their missions.

“They see mounting evidence that when online programs are done well, they can be as effective as in-person education,” he explains.

digital transitions

Digital learning has a way of making universities desirable. Source: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

Universities must take on the challenge

Continuing his analysis of universities and the surmounting pressure they face to heighten their tech-based resources and equip students with future-ready skills, Wilson believes that he’s in the midst of the most radical period of transformation in US higher education.

“Institutions, particularly small, elite private liberal arts institutions, are really struggling. But many HigherEd institutions overall are being challenged, and we are being challenged to rethink some of our academic degree programs.

“To rethink the relevancy of those programs, in light of what the country now is saying that it is looking for in terms of graduates coming out of our institutions ready for innovation, ready to lead in a different kind of way,” he adds.

So, with expectations piling up in the higher education sector, and both international students and educators demanding to be prepared for future digital transitions, is now the time for universities to accept the challenge of extending their tech resources, online courses and awareness of what employers want?

Or do you think they should have the right to remain traditional and have the freedom to withstand the pressure of ‘keeping up’ with digital transitions?

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