Challenges and opportunities for the higher education of the future (11 June 2019)

Today's society is evolving rapidly and becoming more complex. Societal changes such as demographic diversification, growth towards the knowledge economy and technological developments pose higher challenges for higher education. What is needed to ensure that Flemish higher education is sufficiently future-proof?

It is everyone's responsibility: government, institutions, students and society

The government must provide the preconditions so that higher education institutions can be sufficiently future-proof. That means adequate financing, consistent and efficient regulations and better coordination between higher education and secondary education.

The institutions must commit themselves to continue to offer high-quality higher education and to further develop for the future. This requires that they are open to (international) cooperation, educational innovation, democratization and cooperation with other institutions, secondary education and the labor market.

Students and alumni can assist the institutions in the evolution towards a modern and sustainable higher education, by explicitly participating in the policy and also by providing feedback based on experiences after obtaining a diploma.

The Vlor also sees an important role for the labor market. There must be a willingness to work together and to include a commitment in various forms of workplace learning. Cooperation and coordination between the Education and Work policy areas is necessary.

Finally, the Vlor also points to the importance of social perception about the higher education diploma. The council argues for change: not all students must necessarily obtain the highest diploma. Bachelor, master and graduate courses all have their specific and valuable finalities.

A more flexible and daring higher education

In the long term, higher education must focus more on lifelong learning and on knowledge development and research. It must look for genuinely relevant competences and pay more attention to orientation, democratization and globalization. For this, higher education must become more flexible and have less strict contours to implement a better personnel policy. Renewed attention is also needed for curriculum development, a stronger framework and the explicit choice for an integrated diversity policy. All this must be done in a more international context.