"The universities are not going to disappear, they are Darwinian, of an adaptive nature." Some senior officials of the University, such as Juan Romo, rector of Carlos III of Madrid, are convinced of the survival of the institution. They believe that the technological tsunami will not erase them from the map. "The new knowledge is also being born in the Academy, Facebook was created in a campus", argues Romo. Others are less optimistic. "In the coming years millions of jobs will be lost and universities are not responding," says José Escamilla, general director of Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico). Those opinions about the future of higher education were heard yesterday in the second day of EnlightED, an event promoted by Fundación Telefónica, IE University and South Summit in Madrid to address the challenges of technology and the transformation of the education system.
Escamilla, from Tecnológico de Monterrey, criticized that the research model of universities has evolved little, and that technology can be lived as a "threat" or as "an aid to evolve". "Many times research is done to meet an indicator and get well positioned in the rankings: the number of papers published and their impact, "he said. These indicators, he continued, can be "perverse" and research does not always have an impact that helps the progress of society. "The model of training of researchers, the doctorate, is very old and is based on the idea of the expert and the apprentice, you learn the trade: the language to be used, how the points system works … I wonder if there is to make a disruption, "he said in statements to EL PAÍS.
Beyond the criticism, a large part of the experts concentrated yesterday in La Nave de Madrid coincided in a pressing need for the University: to become the center of reference for lifelong learning. "Artificial intelligence will end up with 70% of jobs in 20 years, according to World Bank estimates. We are all going to be obsolete and learning has to be for life, but higher education has not incorporated it, "said Joseph Aoun, president of Northeastern University Boston.
Lifelong learning requires training in three essential fields, Aoun explained: computing, data analytics and analyzing what humans can do that machines can not replicate. "Creativity and innovation are not learned by reading books, but by acts, we must do it," he said in relation to experiential learning, the key to future education in the opinion of experts.
For this, they claimed new teaching models, designed for those who already work and do not have time to re-enroll in the university. "Lifelong education is seen by the university as a secondary issue, it is not a priority issue. You can not reinvent with degrees, but with other formats. There is a pending work, if we do not start now we will not be ready when the boom of people who will have to learn new skills by robotization and artificial intelligence, "explained Escamilla.
Some universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have already started up with the launch of the so-called micromassers, master's subjects that are taught independently and online, allowing anyone to enroll, whether or not graduated academic. The objective is to democratize access to higher education and offer a platform to acquire competences more quickly.
"They asked us why we offer content for free. The value of MIT is not knowledge, but our way of creating experiences. We believe that if citizens are formed, they will make the world a better place, "said Sanjay Sarma, vice president of MIT's Open Learning.