Conference discussion paper: Higher Education in a World Changed Utterly: Doing More with Less

Version 1

    This paper deals with the specific context of the 2010 OECD/IMHE General Conference "Higher Education in a World Changed Utterly: Doing More with Less" and the need to consider both responses for enhanced productivity given the lingering nature of the economic crisis and the longer-term goals of tertiary education (inter alia, sustainable growth, socially responsible citizens, enhanced co-operation amongst the global community).

    Economic Realities: Challenges for the Tertiary Education Community
    The situation in 2010 is reviewed to assess the socio-economic impact of the global crisis. The IMHE General Conference will seek to compile and analyse a range of effective policies and coping strategies used by governments and by tertiary education institutions to weather the turbulent climate. Immediate challenges such as meeting increased demand, fluctuating research funding and a volatile international higher education market need to be offset by the longer-term vision of the sector where ever stronger alliances with social stakeholders will be essential.

    Economic Recovery, Innovation and IT: The Role of Tertiary Education in Building a Sustainable Future
    Based on the OECD Education at a Glance indicators, tertiary education trends are tabled with a view to reiterating the importance of investment in this sector to help economic recovery. The challenges involved in building knowledge systems are discussed including the special difficulties faced by emerging and low-income economies to establish sound R&D and innovation capacity. Investing in human capital and the complexity of the labour market are evoked along with the benefits for teaching, learning and research offered by IT which has still to reach its optimal potential.

    Social Engagement and Tertiary Education: New Imperatives
    Social engagement has moved beyond institutional outreach to address the challenges of the 21st century. Engagement is now a mindset ensuring that tertiary education can meet its multiple responsibilities: equitable globalisation, debate on the purposes and priorities of the sector, creating a culture of learning, directing research and teaching to sustainable development and strengthening links with social partners are now an inescapable obligation for institutions. As the current crisis is global, attention should be paid to the special plight of Africa and to supporting the renewal of its vulnerable tertiary education system.

    Perspectives for Tertiary Education in a post-crisis world: issues for the OECD and a wider public
    The impact of the recession and a difficult economic climate could continue for another decade. Many OECD countries are being forced to revise public policies in the face of reduced revenue. Likely trends in key areas (governance, funding, the measurement of quality and impact, research and innovation and international provision) will be proposed. The legacy of the 2010 OECD IMHE General Conference will reside in the wealth of effective responses provided by a modernized tertiary education sector to resolving current socio-economic questions.


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