As we enter the flux of the fourth industrial revolution, the ability of universities to define and understand the future challenges their students will be faced with and adequately adapting to is critical if they are to remain relevant and effective.

However, transforming from an environment that for many is founded on bureaucratic policies and traditions will undoubtedly be difficult and even painful. That being said, it’s important to stress that this does not imply a normless environment but rather a move towards reconsidering a definition of an enabling environment for learning.

Here it must be remembered that even an environment created on a foundation of rigid policies will eventually become uncomfortable if it does not transform to align with the current day and age.

It really comes down to the much used adage ‘adapt or die’, where those universities who choose to try and maintain the status quo will be denying their students the opportunity to be the effective leaders and champions of positive change that most want to be.

As such it is now absolutely essential that all higher education institutions ask themselves a number of difficult questions and answer them honestly, using them as a catalyst to begin the process of sustainable transformation.

These questions should start by addressing the following key concerns:

  • Is our curriculum truly preparing our students to thrive in a changed, and changing, world?
  • Do we understand the social context within which we operate, and are we committed to being truly effective in our role within that context?
  • Do we understand the readiness and aspirations of our students?
  • Is innovation at the core of what we do and how we do it? Do we have an appropriate business model to declare the type of learning environment and experience intended?
  • To what extent do our employees within and specific to our institution, have the ability to create and facilitate real change?
  • Are we willing to transform, or do we fear change to the extent that we choose comfort over effectiveness?


Tasked with the privilege and responsibility of being able to mould the world’s future leaders who will shape our world for the better, those universities not taking this responsibility seriously and doing whatever it takes to ensure its students are able to realise their full potential and reach their career aspirations, are ultimately doing their students a huge injustice by merely setting them up for failure.