OECD’s education chief Andreas Schleicher

Universities must change or lose their place to alternative education providers: OECD education chief
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In the third of a four-part series on the changing role of universities, OECD’s education chief Andreas Schleicher talks to The Straits Times’ senior education correspondent Sandra Davie on how universities have to evolve to stay relevant.

For some time now, people have been questioning the value of universities. The challenge became more robust in the last two years as the Covid-19 pandemic hit and universities began to deliver their programmes online, said a global education expert.

Mr Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) stressed that universities have to make changes or they may lose the “monopoly” they have on providing higher education and accreditation for workers to access higher-level jobs.

He said in an interview with The Straits Times: “When Covid-19 hit and universities went online, students and their parents asked if they should pay tens of thousands of dollars in fees to attend lessons online.

“Students go to university to learn from great professors, do ground-breaking research, collaborate with their peers on projects and experience the social life of campus living. It won’t do to just offer a bunch of courses and give them a qualification at the end of the course.”

He applauded Singapore’s management of the pandemic and how the local universities went back to providing on-campus learning with safety management measures in place. That has not been the case in many countries around the world.

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