College of Humanities

SMIG staff and researchers with Professor Sid Nair (second from left).

Exploring the Future of University with the Rapid Change in Technology

The School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (SMIG) ended its 2023 academic calendar with two events by Australian Professor, Sid Nair for its academic staff and researchers.

A hybrid workshop discussing issues in postgraduate research and a public lecture redefining the role of universities in university 4.0 and beyond were the two events.

Nair is an Executive Dean and Dean of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience at the Victorian Institute of Technology in Australia and an Honorary Professor at the SMIG since 2019. He has worked in Higher Education for the past 30 years focusing on teaching, learning and quality in Higher Education.

During the workshop, Nair gave a presentation alongside his colleagues, Professor Albert HaddadDean of Academic Programs and Head School of Professional Practice at the University of Divinity in Australia and Dr Kaviraj Sukon, Director General at Open University in Mauritius – sharing expertise and views on the future trajectory of Higher Education in the light of current technological and financial pressures.

The session explored the various threads that impact postgraduate research with much of the focus on artificial intelligence (AI), Haddad emphasising the morality and ethics of its use. Sukon spoke about emerging issues in sustainable development and suggested that this is not only a viable, but a necessary, research focus.

During the public lecture, Nair questioned the future of Higher Education as a result of the rapid change in technology asking whether it is a hybrid model with technology or are we approaching a time that AI will take over the role of teachers and the role of academics redefined with changing times?

He spoke of the evolution of universities from 1.0 – where knowledge sharing through teaching was the order of the day – to 4.0 where digital technology has taken over, driven further by the disruption caused by COVID-19. Nair asked whether universities are ready for this transition, given their entrenchment on the traditional ways of doing things.

He suggested that universities work towards this technology revolution and develop courses that are accessible, technology enabled and flexible. ‘Create a space where there are less teachers and more developers; upskill in technology in order to teach technology. Prioritise the needs of students and adapt to the changes in the world,’ he said.