Challenges and opportunities of the university in a global context, by Jaume Pagès
What does the future hold for universities?
“In the knowledge and information society, knowledge and information become very important. Very. Everyone's convinced of it. And what's also clear, the system that is designed to generate and convey this knowledge lives with more pressure. And what might happen? There are only two outcomes: it's capable of providing a response or it's not.”
“If it's capable of providing a response: it has a future I would say that is extraordinary because it's always had it, but more so now because the matter itself – the hard core of academia – becomes the first level of importance for the future of our society and everyone recognizes it. Therefore, that it's capable of doing so, and of doing it well, it has a very clear and extraordinary future.”
“But if it's not capable of doing it well, it also runs the risk that, as it's important – if it didn't do it there wouldn't be a problem, but seeing as it's important – it can't be accepted that it doesn't do it well and that it doesn't provide a response, and therefore what might happen? Simply, it'll be replaced.”
“I think that the education system, especially higher education, is currently undergoing an enormous stress that will not decrease in the immediate future, but will increase; which forces it to adapt and change, to mark out, a little, the future of a society that it is very different from what it was, not a hundred years ago, but twenty years ago.”
“There are elements that highlight this risk. In other words, we now have institutions with enough financial clout not to think twice about it, and who are setting up their own education centres, and that is still replacing one model with another: a fact that we call Corporate Universities. That they exist and that they are experimenting alongside the traditional systems, with the desire to occupy a space and that, if they do, it's because they think the other one is not up to it or isn't providing a response to the needs that that have to be met.”
“This challenge is an extraordinary challenge for higher education institutions which also have a very great inertia and where changing them is costly as it takes years and even though they're changing, they're doing so pretty slowly. I don't know if the pace at which they are used to changing is enough for the future demands of our society. And we run the risk of a certain replacement.”