Higher education institutions must collaborate more closely with businesses and students to offer courses that will improve employability and opportunity. This is according to De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Vice-Chancellor, who was speaking to a global audience at an Expo 2020 panel debate on the future of higher education.

Professor Katie Normington was joined by Jonathan Nicholls, Senior Higher Education Adviser, FutureLearn, and Sara Ahmedaziz, Chevening Scholar and Junior Egyptologist, for the conversation, which was moderated by Professor Sir Steve Smith, UK Government International Education Champion.

“At DMU, we already have co-designed courses with businesses, and we will continue to do so.” We’ll see a shift away from information – which can become obsolete in four or five years – and a greater focus on skills, both technical and vocational abilities.”

“Instead of the varied timetables that students currently have, course structures will adapt so that modules are taught in blocks.” “Studying in blocks allows you to keep track of your progress and take breaks between study sessions,” Professor Normington explained.

The speakers agreed that the physical campus is an intrinsic element of university life, with virtual learning having its limitations, as they reflected on the quick changes the epidemic has prompted across the industry.

“Being in the same room as other people is an important element of the educational process. You can’t always ensure that people are equitably brought into the debate if you’re chairing a meeting since you can’t read their body language. While remote learning will continue to be popular, a more blended approach to education will become more popular in the future, providing students with an experience that is more tailored to their requirements.”

The event was the first in a series of discussions presented by Dr. Manjeet Ridon, Provost of DMU Dubai, that took place throughout the afternoon in the UK Pavilion, which is located in the heart of Expo 2020, Dubai’s six-month-long festival of global innovation.

Helen Grant, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education, moderated a conversation on the importance of girls’ education around the world, while Shani Dhanda, a disability activist and entrepreneur, moderated a discussion on universities’ role in motivating and creating entrepreneurs.

Faith Moyosore Agboola, a DMU Creative Enterprises MA graduate who developed an African authors’ network and AFM Stories, which connects students and graduates to financial possibilities, was also highlighted in the latter.