The national education landscape is littered with many organizational types belonging to both private and public sectors. Different organizational types have emerged adopting different approaches to teaching and learning. With the advent of the internet of things and digital technologies, how we teach and learn in institutions has changed drastically.
The education sector is an enormous business with tentacles spreading from tools of teaching, learning, assessment, curriculum development to new pedagogies, learning spaces and engaging students for effective and authentic learning. This made the education system quite complex in terms of educational services, assessment of learning and regulation of educational institutions. In a complex world of education, the processes of governing higher education sector are equally complicated. Critical management issues impacting on the quality education, research commercialization processes, governance of higher education institutions need constant review and adjustment.
An integrated system approach is required for effective action and organizational responses that enhance credible and ethical delivery of educational services. Higher education institutions have an obligation to provide relevant and credible education for all students. Three major challenges governing higher education system are organizational, methodological and procedural issues.
Changing Organizational Requirements
One of the main challenges for educational institutions is to retain scholarly traditions while forging relationships with industry to make students industry ready. Students must gain the latest knowledge while acquiring transferable skills to deal with changing global changes. The primary objective of all higher education institutions should be to prepare students with relevant knowledge and skills that are pertinent to real-world needs.
Most higher education institutions have been slow to respond to 21st-century learning. Higher education institutions have a responsible role to play in shaping the social and economic destiny of a nation. An agile and responsive national work force must not only be knowledge savvy but also need to possess general capabilities. The outcomes of education should be to produce responsible citizens who are well trained to gain employment in technologically advanced industry and also general capabilities that are necessary to deal with complexity and changing industry and service needs.
Methodological issues: Teaching, Research and Service
Students no longer are passive listeners and followers of textbook-based learning. They are active and individualized learners using various forms of inquiry-based learning. They use modern technology integrated learning with a range of subjects to choose from and are purposeful learners actively pursuing wide career options. Young generation changes jobs frequently and no longer seek one employment in lifetime as their parents did. The higher education should extend its influence beyond the walls of the university, into workplaces. A substantial diverse range of techniques and processes shall now be available for students to have open access to teachers and learning processes.
In a competitive learning environment, universities will have to invest in learning pedagogies involving research that engage, motivate and enhance learning capabilities of all students – both local and international students. Research and teaching go hand in hand. Research informs teaching and teaching sharpens the academic research focus with feedback loops.
Building a robust research culture in academic institutions is a complex process requiring several layers of supporting institutions, policies and procedures. Maintaining a balance between teaching and research in academic institutions is a challenge. The higher education institutions have to design effective ways of managing workloads and service functions for their staff and at the same time conducting quality teaching, which is the primary purpose of all academic institutions.
Procedural challenges - Innovation in education
Developing and developed economies equally face the challenge to reform higher education to make it more relevant and accessible to all. Equity in education and related ethics are a real concern for managers of higher education institutions. The increase in costs of delivery and the ability implement changes to the education system are deterrents to make education a public good. As consumers, students have the right to demand that all educational institutions provide the most relevant and current knowledge that can prepare them to acquire skills relevant to the global and local economy.
Therefore the educational policy makers must be sufficiently informed to make informed and courageous decisions to steer the educational system to produce desired results. This requires empowering schools and teachers to acquire latest and most current knowledge. This is possible mainly through university and industry interactions. Building such interactions requires a change in culture and procedural changes in higher education processes.
Not only economic and market gains, higher education institutions have an important role to play in shaping societal change. While holding the academic scholarship with high prestige, the relevance and practical significance need to be carefully assessed. This is only possible through a good understanding of the value system that supports the positive learning and innovative culture.
Lessons to learn
Managing complex education requires smart thinking and constant tinkering. Some of the key things that need consideration include:
a) Managing the role of government and higher education authorities who should be informed about challenges facing the university sector and make them more responsive and agile to support learning and research.
b) Enhance universities scholar charter and make universities more responsible for producing graduates who are responsible and informed citizens rather than mere degree awarding institutions and in effect adopt technological changes.
c) Adopt innovative practices in pedagogies and incorporate latest and smartest pedagogies that empower student inquiry and learning.
d) Work towards an equitable and fair education system that caters to learning for all and make higher education initiations more democratic institutions.