6th ICA Rectors and Deans Forum 2016
The Life Science University in the 21stC Global World


 The three Forum themes were:

  1. Challenging Life Science Universities to Deliver Leaders for a Global World
  2. Preparing the Student for the Global World
  3. Leadership and University Management in the Global World

See the Forum Focus and the progarmme with the presentations

Theme 1 Challenging Life Science Universities to Deliver Leaders for a Global World

The keynote speakers will address the expectations for agricultural and life science universities in delivering leaders to address the global challenges as set out in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and identified in the COP21 Paris Agreement, November 2015.

The panel discussions and the following roundtable discussions will focus on how life science institutions should respond in developing their degree programmes to deliver the future leaders in the transformation of agriculture, the food sector and the bio-economy. This focus in no way negates the importance of the remit of agricultural and life science universities and faculties for research and innovation in addressing these global challenges but the focus of this Forum is on education.

Employers place ever greater focus on generic competences in the graduates they seek to recruit and demand that universities address these competences in the university curriculum. Universities also recognise the need to place greater emphasis on high level engagement with analysis, synthesis and creativity in the Bachelor and Master degree programmes away from the emphasis on the transfer of knowledge.

  • What encapsulates life science university education in 21st C and what are the key attributes?
  • How should life science universities respond to the global challenges as set out in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and identified in the COP21 Paris Agreement, November 2015?
  • How can life science universities respond effectively to the changes in demand from employers and from new student groups.

In the last 30 years universities have moved from being an elitist education system to which only a minority of school leavers gained access to a mass education system to which 50 percent aspire access and success. Widening access also requires universities to cater for students, who do not have all the appropriate entry requirements, through induction programmes.

  • Have life science universities responded effectively to these changes in demand during the last two decades?
    • in research themes for research led education?
    • in education?
    • in the third mission of universities (dialogue with society, technology transfer,...)

Universities will be in competition with other certificated courses online such as provided by EdEx, Coursera and similar providers providing nano course to full length degree programmes which have long been provided by Open Universities. This competition is likely to become ever more challenging in the years ahead.

  • • What actions should universities take?
  • • What are the unique selling points of a life science university campus education?

 Theme 2 Preparing the Student for the Global World

The ever enlarging and invasive digital environment opens space for innovation in teaching and for students learning. The lecturers' role is changing from knowledge transfer to being facilitators in their students' learning. Students can access their lecturers' courses online, access open online learning resources from the global internet and courses such as MOOCs. We now talk about blended learning, the flip classroom and peer to peer learning.

  • What are the expectations of students for their learning environment?
  • Are the academic staff adequately prepared to deliver education in this new and rapidly emerging learning environment?
  • How should the staff development needs be addressed?

Students need to be prepared to work in the ever shrinking global world – international experience can be gained through mobility and international experience at home with global perspective in the curriculum and the presence of international students. Universities benefit from engagement in joint degree programmes through sharing expertise and the international engagement of their staff.

  • How should mobility be managed for the greatest student benefit?
  • How should universities and the accreditation systems adapt to recognise credits obtained at foreign universities?

 Theme 3 Leadership and University Management in the Global World

In a globalised world the role of the life science Rector or Dean carries many challenges. On both the operational and strategic levels there are demands to secure and develop university functions and activities. The core function of the life science university is to deliver education and skilled graduates to society to address the challenges of 21st C as enumerated by the Paris Climate Agreement (COP21) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

  • How do we plan for resilience in changing expectations and in the face of unforeseen change in the educational environment of the university? What are the implications for management and organizational structure of the university? In this context several issues can be considered including:
    • what is the role and contribution of non-university partners and what general role does the on-going dialog with society play? How should university leaders and academic staff engage to ensure an effective interaction?
    • does transnational education make the university system more resilient and what are the specific challenges and benefits? Various models are envisaged, e.g. complete branch campus with permanent staff, to a model which involves flying in staff in block teaching?
    • is collaboration between universities in education – sharing of expertise – effective? An example is the model of the Erasmus Mundus joint programmes.