Thursday 18 January 2018

Global students of future to get degree of flexibility

Katherine Donnelly

THEY say university broadens the mind, but for third-level students of the future, it will be a gateway to a whole new world of learning.

It's only a matter of time before many students attend a number of different colleges both at home and abroad to complete their degree. The year travelling to places like Australia and new Zealand may no longer be a "gap" in their education, but time spent in a college as part of their degree course.

It may not even involve going abroad -- students could tap into international experts by competing some modules online.

Higher Education Authority chairman Michael Kelly yesterday painted the picture of learning without borders.

"It's only a matter of time before many students will earn their degree through a combination of credits gained in different colleges in different countries," he told an international think-in on higher education.

Third-level degree programmes typically involve students gaining 60 credits each year, and in the future they could be accrued in different colleges, even in the same year.

A student could earn 30 of those credits from a base college in Ireland and, say, 15 each, through distance learning from universities as far apart as Canada and New Zealand.

The new flexibilities could allow student to tap into an international expert in their field, based elsewhere in the world, for a particular module.

It is a scenario beyond current EU initiatives, such as the Erasmus student exchange programme, or innovations in Ireland such as a programme offered jointly by NUI Galway and the University of Limerick

Mr Kelly told the Wellington Group seminar, being held in University College Dublin (UCD), it was essential that students, researchers and academics had a global perspective and could apply their skills.

He said that further work in the fields of recognition and quality assurance on a global level was a priority for higher education.

"We should not be afraid to imagine the global learner of the future and ask how we can facilitate him or her to achieve their best," he said

Irish Independent

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