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May 21, 2013

Fundamental Curiosity: The Dynamic Of The University

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Rodin

A Q and A with Professor Tim Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor: Research (Science and Medicine), Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement, University of Warwick.


What do you think is the most under-hyped, yet significant, change universities in the UK will undergo during the next decade?

I don’t know if it’s necessarily under-hyped but I think the private provision of higher education will completely change the dynamic in the future. I think a number of universities will be threatened very significantly. Private provision will expand and will change the way universities have to behave and operate in a very, very significant way.

And do you think global providers have an advantage?

Almost certainly yes, I mean the US is a classic example, and I think the UK is behind the curve with this certainly compared to some countries.

Open-access research: is the UK shooting itself in the foot or are we leading the way?

There is no doubt that open access research is a great thing in principle, however I think being first is not necessarily a good thing. So I would argue we are shooting ourselves in the foot because I don’t necessarily see the rest of the world following. I think the UK is going to be in a very difficult position.

The University of Warwick is hosting the 2013 Global University Summit in May, which will issue a formal declaration on higher education to the G8. If you could get one commitment from the summit of world leaders, what would that be?

It would be to ensure that universities remain establishments of academic research and scholarships and are no skewed too much by the agendas of governments around the world, where economic growth seems to be the raison d’être for the existence of universities. Don’t skew universities too much towards being engines of economic growth; don’t change the dynamic of the way the university operates. Don’t discriminate against intellectual, fundamental, curiosity driven education and research that continues to attract the very very best students and academics, who are free thinkers and are not constrained by government thinking and policy.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Auguste Rodin's Le Penseur (The Thinker). Source: (Flickr).
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Image Professor Tim Jones, University of WarwickAs Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement, Professor Tim Jones has responsibility for development of the University of Warwick’s knowledge transfer and business engagement strategy to support the University’s research and teaching ambitions through corporate level regional, national and international relationships with business partners. He also works with the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer to maximise the impact of the University HEIF allocations and lead engagements with relevant external bodies.He also has responsibility for the University’s Science research strategy, including the development of research opportunities and collaborations both nationally and internationally and the raising of research income, publications and citation scores in the Faculty of Science.


April 29, 2013

The collegiate community of students: an interview with Professor Lawrence Young

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Photo of students using the Orchard computer suite at the University of Warwick. The Orchard is stocked with Apple computers.
Students in the Interactive Computation Learning Suite in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick. The suite is nicknamed 'The Orchard' as it is filled with 120 Apple iMac computers.

Alex Miles speaks to Professor Lawrence Young, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research (Life Sciences and Medicine) and Capital Development at the University of Warwick.

AM: Last week saw the announcement of another MOOC (massive open online course), in this case the ‘pan-European’ OpenupEd platform. What might the transformative impact of the 'MOOC movement' be on the experiential side of global higher education? Will students demand more from their investment in ‘place’? What might the physical consequences be of a move to predominantly online content provision?

LY: That’s a tricky question. I think part of the student experience has to be wrapped up in what the students gain from actually being here, physically in a ‘place’. I think we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that whilst all digital technology is rapidly developing and providing exciting opportunities to be innovative about the way we deliver, there is something about the collegiate community of students and how that translates into the experience not only in relation to a specific discipline, but also in relation to the overall experience that students gain, and that we all gained when we went to university, over the three or four year period. I think it is really exciting that there are new approaches; I don’t think they will ever replace the actual experience of being on a campus. That doesn’t mean that we do not need to explore more innovative digital approaches in the ways we deliver our curriculum, but for me I think there is something about the core experience of being a student on a campus.

With my capital brief that means we have to look at not only, how we are effectively and efficiently using existing space but also, how we can innovative in the way that we provide space in relation to the learning and teaching experience we give our students. Partly that means being really cutting edge in terms of delivering, in terms of the use of digital media and mobile devices. It also means that we have to accept that whilst things are changing we will always need lectures. Lectures are a really important way of engaging, it’s particularly important in our environment where we are a research imbedded institution. Our belief is that research influences and informs the way that we deliver teaching. One key facet to that is that our students are exposed to the best researchers in the world and by being exposed I think that means direct contact in a either small group context or a lecture hall, and I don’t think we can get around that. So whilst MOOCs are really exciting and whilst there are clear challenges in how universities benefit and are sustainable financially in that environment (those issues need to be considered) I don’t think that replaces the campus experience.

AM: ‘Eds and Meds’ has often been held up by writers such as Will Hutton and David Willetts as the future of western economic growth – acting almost as an indicator of prosperity in some cases. Given your background in the medical sciences – what might the role of universities be in combining ‘eds and meds’ to support the UK’s economic prospects in the short-term?

Photograph of students using the Orchard computer suite at the University of Warwick. The suite got its nickname as its filled with Apple computers.LY: It’s quite clearly an issue about medicine, about bio-medical science and its’ teaching, and about research and how that informs our understanding of the various opportunities there. Clearly there is an on-going need for us to maintain our national position, our UK position in life sciences. One way to achieve that is continue on the enormous strength we have both in research and how that research informs the development of teaching. The issue for me, in terms of what this means for UK science is quite a fundamental. There was a very important report from BIS about a year ago on life sciences and the capacity to grow that area and the interesting interface between innovation in healthcare, not only in the NHS but in world-wide healthcare and the way that we teach our students. Those connections are essential. We need to be creative in the way we provide undergraduate and postgraduate training; there is a massive need within the healthcare system in this country for continued professional development (CPD). I think we are only scratching the surface with things like the reorganisation of the NHS; we need to think about this not only in the context of hard-core biological science but with relevance to social and psychological sciences. As well as the opportunity to interact more effectively with big firms like GE healthcare, who are considering all types of opportunities with digital healthcare, etc. There is a really important position for a university such as ours which is so research intense and has enormous multi-disciplinary strength in health altogether; it’s not just about medicine or biomedicine.

AM: The University of Warwick is hosting the 2013 Global University Summit later this summer, which will issue a formal declaration on higher education to the G8. This year the G8 is focussing on free trade - thinking about that topic, and also thinking about what the G8 traditionally does. If you could get one commitment from the summit of world leaders related to higher education that would benefit the sector, what would that be?

LY: I can’t help but be influenced by my own background. I was in New York recently with the Vice Chancellor at a UN sponsored summit looking at global health and the implications for the post 2015 millennium developments goals. I’d like to see some interaction between those millennium development goals and the G8 summit. Partly considering my medical background, it would be looking at how we can improve health globally and the responsibility that big universities have not only in the way we educate, but in how we disseminate and diffuse and support healthcare systems and biomedical training in developing countries. I’d like to think in terms of economic growth that we can’t take our eye of the fact that we have a responsibility in the west, where we have very developed healthcare systems to think about what that means for countries like sub-Saharan Africa, India or Pakistan. I’d like to see something that acknowledges the primacy of university and of higher education in supporting that interface between the G8 and the development cause.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

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Photograph of Pro-Vice_Chancellor Lawrence Young University of WarwickProfessor Young was appointed to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor post this year. He is responsible for the University’s Life Sciences and Medicine research strategy, including the development of research opportunities both nationally and internationally and the raising of research income, publications and citation scores for the School of Life Sciences and the Warwick Medical School. Lawrence leads on the University’s capital development and space management programmes working closely with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost. He also works closely with the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer in developing and implementing the University’s environment and carbon management strategy.

He has, along with the other Pro-Vice-Chancellors, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, and the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, responsibility for supporting the Vice-Chancellor and President in developing the University’s international profile with a particular focus on relationships with China. The Pro-Vice-Chancellors also chair committees to hear complaints, appeals and disciplinary issues.



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