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U21 Innovation Cluster to advance higher education in the machine age

U21 is actively monitoring the national and international emergency planning and strategies in place across its member universities, and is exploring new collaborative approaches to the unprecedented challenges currently facing its members, across the world during the Coronavirus pandemic, that is why they have announced the latest Educational Innovation Cluster Position Statement on the 4th Industrial Revolution and the Future of the University.

The U21 Universities’ Educational Position Statement was drawn up, reviewed and refined following a series of meetings by those Senior Educational Leaders who attended the U21 Educational Symposium in October 2019, held at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) under the theme ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the future of the universities.

A short film of the recent meeting entitled ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the future of the universities, yielded results for the latest position statement.

The speakers involved Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training of the Republic of South Africa, Honourable Buti Manamela, and the overall messaged conveyed during the 3-day conference highlighted on the pressing need to develop well-designed, adaptable approaches to fast-changing higher educational needs brought on by 4IR technologies.

Announcing the latest Position Statement, UJ’s Head of the Division for Internationalisation Prof Ylva Rodny-Gumede said: “The symposium gave us new ideas and insights into the ever changing role of Universities and the need for innovation. In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic this could not be more timely. The lessons learnt, and opportunities provided for continuous sharing of best practices across the network of leading universities globally, has assisted us in our responses to the pandemic.”

Many U21 members are facing temporary shut-down of their universities, with serious impact on research facilities. Across the network there is also a rapid transition of all teaching and assessment to online platforms, and the significant impact of global restrictions on student mobility. Using U21’s online facilities, members will be supported to share ideas and resources in coping with these challenges, and finding possible new directions in these unprecedented times.


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