Future Forum 2017 Explores New Frontiers in Higher Education

In conjunction with its 29th Convocation, Universiti Brunei Darussalam hosted The Future Forum 2017 which was officiated by the Minister of Education Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi Haji Osman.

In his opening address, he noted that changes to higher education over the next 15 to 20 years will be incremental as well as transformative, and that continuing technology disruption, increasing emphasis on individualised univeristy experience, and greater hybridisation of academic and industry goals may be defining hallmarks of change.

"One major driver of the discussion here about the future of higher education centres on the value-addedness of innovation and technology," he said. "By 2035, higher education may be quite different from the way it is today. There may be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources to benefit greater number of students. There may be more learning activities that might centre individualised learning approaches."

He also pointed out how it is crucial to discuss how innovation and technology can better assist in teaching people how to learn, at all stages of their lives, instead of just getting a degree.

Dr Joyce Teo Siew Yean, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Global Affairs, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, as Chairperson of The Future Forum 2017 emphasised the importance of the forum in providing a platform for institutional leaders to identify and discuss the opportunities and challenges higher education institutions will face in the coming years. This includes the profound need for engagement between stakeholders and institutions of higher education.

The Future Forum 2017 featured an impressive line-up of keynote speakers. These include Professor Dr Sibrandes Poppema, President of the University of Groningen, who spoke on using public-private partnerships (PPPs) to create higher education opportunities, and Professor Chung-Kyu Sang, President of Sungkyunkwan University, who explored triple-helix collaborations in higher education.

In her keynote address entitled "Rising Up the Ranks", Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Aziz, Vice Chancellor of Universiti Brunei Darussalam highlighted how Universiti Brunei Darussalam, which only four years ago was an unranked institution, became 171th in the QS Asia Rankings in 2014. This year, Universiti Brunei Darussalam continued its upward trajectory when it entered the QS World Rankings in 349th place.

This achievement was noted by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during his titah at UBD's 29th Convocation ceremony. His Majesty also noted that this ranking places UBD within the top 1.03 percent of the world's universities and in 37th position among universities below 50 years old.

The panel sessions, featuring panellists who are institutional leaders of renown, pursued an agenda of canvassing the future of higher education. Topics included "The 'Oscars' of Innovation in Higher Education", "The Missing Link: The Skills Lacking in our Current Higher Education", "The 'Grand Challenges' of Triple-Helix Collaboration", and "The 2035 University: How Ready is Higher Education to Embrace the Future?"

The Future Forum brought together leaders of top universities, who drew on their collective decades of experience to investigate the future landscape of higher education and to question how the university as an institution will continue to evolve in order to best meet the needs of society through innovation, education, research and substantial knowledge transfer.

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