What does innovation in higher education actually do?


I read the article titled, “4 ways universities are driving Innovation” by the World Economic Forum. The synopsis of this article boils down to 4 trends namely, Fostering Entrepreneurship, Encouraging collaboration with the private sector, Promoting diversity and inclusion and Exploring the nexus of technology and society.

I would like to pose my opinion on these four trends. Fostering entrepreneurship is perhaps a leading trend in the major universities as well as the low ranked ones. Living in a capitalist society today where money is a serious motivation behind any activity, bringing the idea of creating monetary opportunities through incubators for startups is perhaps a great way of exposing learners to the real world. Education today especially due to such entrepreneurial motivation changes the whole purpose of learning: education is no longer limited to grades and managing to obtain a job, rather, people are now motivated in thinking out of the box as to what sort of application could their knowledge be invested in so that it could generate revenue. This is real and the purpose is real which is why education can have a greater impact while learning and the seriousness of what courses one takes and the time and effort one puts into the subject seems driven.

By developing relation with the private sector, students get a better idea of what is happening in the world and what people “out there” are really upto. It gives a a direction of how one can enhance the activities of the world in a very pragmatic perspective. One can align their research accordingly and know their market well which is an essential because it gives crucial feedback.

At the same time, making the world a smaller place is an important objective. It helps people grow as humans, become more appreciative and accepting by including diversity. It is a great way to break racial and ethnic barriers.

Finally, exploring the nexus of technology and society is the next great trend. This is perhaps one of the pivotal changes in modern education where a relation between the “application of education” to the “process of learning” has a clear connection. Careful analysis of the society and structuring education programs accordingly is an essential. In a society where one needs revenue to survive, the university is responsible to provide education that can actually help the students land with jobs rather than investing their time in a field that is outdated or perhaps too much into the future that the society does not really require at this point of time.

All these trends are truly leading modern learning to a progressive path and indeed, the results are quite clear. For example, competitions like Hyperloop and the Self driving cars or Baja/Supra help engineers to actually invest their ideas in real world challenges bringing them much closer to what they might be doing after they graduate while still studying. Clarity of the future helps better decision making and planning and the current education system is indeed helping all students in this way.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Category(s): Grad5104

4 Responses to What does innovation in higher education actually do?

  1. Thanks for your thoughts. It seems that your initial thought on entrepreneurship is that the primary reason people desire to start their own business is financial gain. I apologize if that is a misrepresentation of your thought. If it is, I’d be interested to read what you really think. I would argue that entrepreneurship is a skill students need because it drives innovation (which you also discuss in your post). We need innovators who can start a project and see it through to completion without oversight and/or supervision.

    Building what already exists can be done cheaper through outsourcing. We need folks who can create something new and roll it out into the marketplace. There should be some financial reward with that, but the bigger reward is the positive contribution made to society. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    Renata Carneiro says:

    I also believe that “encouraging collaboration with the private section” helps educators to prepare students to jobs that not even exist yet. The private sector can give precious insights to professors and instructors about the skills they are or will be looking for in a young professional.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I agree with your point that education now a days goes beyond grades and jobs as goal. Instead, it encourages to go further with innovation as you highlight in the post. Using technology and platforms such as blogs, twitter and others for education definitely promotes collaboration and partnerships therefore entrepreneurship.

  3. I appreciate the optimism in your post regarding the university and innovation, but I am not sure if I share it entirely. For example, I find the idea that people are increasingly motivated to think outside the box “to generate revenue” to be more of a condemnation of the way our system is developing than a celebration of it. When you mention self-driving cars, I think this opens conversation about the nature of this “progressive” path that the World Economic Forum suggests. It is correct that self-driving cars are the result of the application of higher education to the profit motive, or “encouraging collaboration with the private sector.” Yet, where does that kind of progress leave the many people who are more interested in things like more efficient, more accessible, and less costly public transport? The problem is that this solution generates less revenue, but in my opinion, is far superior to trying to sell individuals expensive self-driving cars. It’s not really this particular technology that I am taking issue with here, but the idea that collaboration between the University and the private sector is going to produce the best results, or is going to encourage truly “outside of the box” thinking. I think it would encourage thinking outside of the box to a very certain degree, just until that thinking didn’t support whatever fleeting business interest. I do not want to see the University become (any more than it already is) a factory for technocrats.

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