Skip to content
The UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education.

Does policy-making support or restrict advances in higher education technology?

  • 9 November 2018
  • By Daniel Barrass

A guest blog kindly contributed by Daniel Barrass, Marketing Business Partner for Higher Education, Tribal.

Technology, by its very nature, has always sought to make processes simpler than before – and new advances have made the impossible, possible. Today, the juggernaut that is ‘technological change’ is moving at speeds incomprehensible to many, often leaving behind even the most modern universities, and outdating government policies aimed to guide decision-making in a way that produces rational outcomes for the benefit of higher education as a whole.

Despite the common goal of improving the higher education experience and outcomes, for students, staff and wider stakeholders – changes in policy and technology can often seem at odds with each other. Some argue that policies that impact the way in which universities operate do not appear to support advances in the use of technology. Research in 2017 suggested  millennials think they learn more from technology than people, and are more likely to ‘Google’ answers to questions rather than the traditional way of speaking to a human.

Of course, the debate doesn’t stop there, particularly when we consider the universities of the future and the many trends that the sector is predicting, like changes to curricula, differing assessment methods, disruptive ways of learning, the role of corporations, the endless possibilities of artificial intelligence and automation in education.

As a former University leader until 2011, I thought the pace of technological change then was challenging.

Now, in 2018, I absolutely understand that to be the case.

Overlay the technology environment with the profound changes that the higher education sector is facing and with the media focus that it now prompts, and the challenges for university staff and students are indeed significant.

Jon Baldwin, Managing Director, Higher Education, Tribal

Oklahoma State University Professor Subhash Kak (2018) wrote about the evolution of the university and the advances in alternatives to traditional learning methods. It is widely acknowledged however that there will always be a need, and a genuine desire, to combine the online world with in-person knowledge transfer. Today’s universities must have a policy framework capable of accommodating the students of tomorrow and their insatiable thirst for technology.

Next month, we are planning on exploring all these important questions and more at an entertaining evening of thought-provoking sessions, forthright opinions and open discussion on the roles of policy and technology in higher education.

Find out more at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *