Future-proof Education

A recent brainstorm on ‘future-proof education’ (2021), involving various stakeholders (students, lecturers, quality assurance staff, education support staff, directors of studies), has resulted in a continued commitment to Ghent University’s Six Strategic Education Objectives as the bedrock of our education policy. To meet future challenges, however, we must also take into account three additional key strategies: (1) future-proof curricula, (2) lifelong learning, and (3) Blend@UGent. These key strategies are a substantial enrichment to, and as such, they must be embedded into our current education vision, our strategic education objectives and our education policy. It is our ambition to train students into becoming lifelong learning citizens. Instead of simply living tomorrow’s society, our alumni must take up the challenge and act as proper change agents to give shape to the future. To accelerate the implementation of this new education vision at Ghent University APOLLO 8 was created, which refers to 8 strategic education projects that will be rolled out from November 2021 to October 2023.

1. Future-proof curricula

In the next five years, our study programmes will review their curricula and determine whether or not they live up to five future-proof criteria: 

  • does the programme offer a well-considered mix of learning opportunities for acquiring essential research-based and discipline-specific competencies on the one hand, as well as for acquiring generic competencies based on the concept of the T-shaped professional on the other? 
  • does the programme offer sufficient opportunities for multi- and interdisciplinary learning opportunities, allowing students from different disciplines to interact with each other? 
  • does the programme systematically integrate the stepping stone principle for internationalization into the curriculum, allowing students to acquire international and intercultural competencies?   
  • is the programme sufficiently embedded in society and does it offer students an opportunity to come into contact with social players, are they encouraged in taking up social engagement, does the curriculum answer future societal needs based on/using real-life challenges?  
  • is the programme sufficiently student-centred? Does it offer flexible learning opportunities and learning paths, allowing students to tailor the curriculum to their own needs?

2. Lifelong Learning

Staking on lifelong learning is an important challenge for higher education of the future. After all, one does not stop learning after obtaining one’s initial degree. By issuing its Strategic Policy Plan for Lifelong Learning (2020), Ghent University has explicitly chosen to become a travelling companion for anyone with a wish to acquire further qualifications throughout their professional career. Our mission is to transfer to society the newest innovations and developments in academic research. We will provide an extensive offer of lifelong learning initiatives based on state-of-the-art research and reliable academic insights in the field. Strong collaboration ties between the University of Antwerp, VUB and Ghent University in the context of lifelong learning will result in an optimized offer, joint initiatives and joint communication to the general public through the Nova Academy.

3. Blend@UGent

The Blend@UGent vision that was developed in times of corona offers a framework for a well-considered and well-aligned mix of online and on-campus education. This well-considered mix can be applied, not only by individual lectures or in individual course units, but can also be applied in entire study programmes and in each standard study track. On-campus presence will never cease to be a key property of the (inter)active education Ghent University wants to offer its students. Digitalization, however, will continue to gain importance, too.  

Putting this new vision further into practice in the future requires thorough discussion by study programme committees and by the entire teaching and support staff, and the students. This process will take time, but lecturers and study programmes are invited and encouraged to take this time in the upcoming years.  

For the further development of the three key strategies mentioned above, Ghent University can count on financial leverage from 1) the APOLLO 8 Project, and 2) the ENLIGHT: European University Project.