Challenges for modern universities

The recent Toktok Bilong Strongim Nesen series explored the important role that universities play in preparing the workforce of the future and in building a nation.

The Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Queensland, who was the guest speaker, believes universities can be a key source of ideas and insights through robust research.

The discussion was on the topic ‘Innovators and Educators: Opportunities and Challenges for Modern Universities’, and was hosted at the University of PNG.

Professor Peter Høj said graduates who leave universities today face a more challenging environment than those who graduated decades ago.

“The world is changing at a faster pace; it’s being disrupted. And one of the key things we have to teach our graduates is that they never truly graduate anymore,” he stated. “They will have to dip into knowledge all the time. They will have to use their knowledge to pivot when things change rapidly.

“But on the other hand, they’re going into an environment where more and more people have access to technologies that are widely shared and it can allow them to become more inventive than my generation was.

“It will allow them, if they have the right mindset, and the right courage, to not be victims of disruption but people who disrupt themselves for the benefit of wider society.”

Prof Høj further said the challenge for universities now is to scale the exposure to innovative behaviour, alluding to a survey carried out in the University of Queensland where a majority of their students expressed the desire to be their own boss.

“I asked some of the students at one of our competitions, ‘Why do you wanna do that?’ And one student said to me, ‘Well, the world is changing so fast that if I’m going to get sacked, I wanna sack myself’.

“And that shows that the new generation coming through is extremely challenged but also have, I believe, a degree of courage that many of us, perhaps, didn’t have.”

(Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Queensland, Professor Peter Høj)

Carmella Gware