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Artikel vom 31.08.2017

Higher education institutions need strategies for the digital age

How can higher education institutions seize the opportunities presented by digitalization to enhance their institutional profile and mission? This question is addressed in an article by a group of authors from the CHE Centre for Higher Education. The article is included in an international edited volume entitled “Prospects and Future Tasks of Universities”, which was published on 23 August 2017.

Digitalization is changing virtually all aspects of society, including higher education institutions (HEIs). Many HEIs continue to see digitalization itself as a challenge , and most German HEIs are far from adopting a strategic approach linked to digitalization.

CHE Executive Director Jörg Dräger calls for a rethink: “Instead of viewing digitalization as a challenge, HEIs should exploit the advantages it offers to help them meet existing challenges, such as the growing demand for higher education.”

Going further, HEIs should also use digitalization to enhance their profiles and missions. For example, digitalization is an effective way of communicating the portfolio of offerings that HEIs are aiming for, reaching the intended target groups and achieving the strategic development goals they have defined.

For this reason, the appeal made by Dräger and his co-authors is reflected in the title of the article: “Higher Education Institutions Need Strategies for the Digital Age”. Examples at both national and international level are given to illustrate a number of approaches towards shaping profiles and missions. For instance, the Virtual University of Applied Sciences (Virtuelle Fachhochschule), a multi-state association of universities of applied sciences, offers accredited bachelor’s and master’s online study programs for professionals. The virtual consortium offers flexible courses of study for the group of professionals with limited time, enabling them to study whenever it suits them.
The authors are convinced no HEI will be able to manage without digitalization in the medium term; whether for modernization or for enhancing profiles. In fact, the targeted use of digitalization affects all areas of higher education: research, teaching, the Third Mission and administration, whereby teaching can benefit considerably from the comprehensive use of digitalization. For this reason, CHE Executive Director Jörg Dräger advises HEIs to tackle the issue of digitalization strategically and at an early stage: “In the long term, advantages will accrue to higher education institutions that actively shape the process of transformation instead of just observing it passively.”

The article “Higher Education Institutions Need Strategies for the Digital Age“ was published on 23 August 2017. The group of authors led by Jörg Dräger included Julius-David Friedrich, Lisa Mordhorst and Ulrich Müller (CHE) and Ronny Röwert from Kiron Open Higher Education. The article is published in the edited volume “Prospects and Future Tasks of Universities: Digitalization − Internationalization – Differentiation”, containing 29 articles by 46 authors. The volume, edited by the Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development, was published by Wiener LIT Verlag and is available in bookstores.


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