Featured Voices

Mark Sweeney, Regional VP, Citrix UK & Ireland

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The global pandemic has impacted all corners of society, but higher education has faced one of the biggest overhauls in its history.

Steeped in tradition with packed lecture theatres, face-to-face tutorials and campus-based living, remote learning on such a grand scale was never deemed desirable, nor possible.

However, in little more than a year, educators and students have had to acclimatise to a new, virtual way of teaching and learning.

Universities have also needed to balance this with the ever-growing need to attract and retain students. Despite best efforts and some admirable achievements, many challenges remain.

Above all, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the need for universities to offer a consistent learning environment between the campus and those accessing lessons remotely to ensure future success and resilience.

Once achieved, this will enable universities to prepare the next generation of talent for a hybrid world of work, that will no doubt be in place by the time they enter the workforce.

To explore the subject in more depth, we recently undertook a survey of UK universities to gauge how they are adapting in the face of COVID-19, and some valuable lessons emerged…

Universities must offer a first-rate learning experience both on and off-campus

Our research finds that 38 percent of students say they would prefer a flexible, blended approach to learning moving forward. Whether a student is on campus or learning remotely, the intention should be for universities to democratise the learning experience and provide an experience of equal quality, giving students choice in how, when, and where they learn. The questions universities need to ask themselves are: who can access information, what information can they access, and can they access it in a way that works best for them?

A ‘hybrid’ learning model should re-think the role of the campus, within the higher education experience. Much like designs for the workplace, campus-based learning could be the place for collaboration, discussion, practical work, face-to-face supervisions, sports and socialising, while formal teaching could be delivered virtually. This will require a deep look at the digital applications and platforms that users will need, as well as audio visual and collaboration tools, which will all come at a cost.

Virtual learning can be used to make higher education more accessible and open to all

A hybrid learning environment will help to drive an inclusive student experience, allowing students to access information in a way that works best for them around their individual needs — for example full-time parents, workers, and international students. It may also help students with disabilities or those facing financial hardship, making it difficult for them to learn on campus.

Over the past year there have been many reported issues with laptops and technology provision at universities. If left unchecked, inequalities in student experience and provision will worsen, and there is the danger that some institutions will be left behind, particularly when matched against digital-first institutions.

The goal should be to make universities accessible to all, and with the right technology, we can level the playing field and enhance diversity.

Sustainability must fit into every facet of university decision-making

For an environmentally conscious generation, sustainability is becoming a top priority and 45 percent of students say they assess the sustainability ranking of a university within their selection process. Additionally, seven in ten (70 percent) university staff members say that sustainability has become more important in the wake of COVID-19.

As we contemplate the future of higher education, sustainability needs to fit into every facet of university decision making, including technology. There are many sustainable benefits that come with a hybrid work scenario, from green datacentres through to reductions in travel time and on-campus activity. For example, 48 percent of universities expect to host their data in the cloud, post-pandemic.

We need to prepare students for a hybrid world of work

The pandemic has put a huge strain on universities but has exposed the benefits of creating a blended approach to learning and a positive online experience. While significant strides have been made in creating a hybrid environment, it is also apparent that our education system is lagging behind the workplace, and this gap must be redressed urgently. Above all, it is critical that universities prepare students for working life and the shape it will take, post-pandemic.

This is an opportunity to break with past tradition and build back better. If we begin with higher education, we can then extend these learnings to the entire education sector, including primary and secondary schools. It could be immensely powerful if we do it the right way, and would mean that our education system would be fully prepared for whatever the world throws at us next.

There’s no doubt that once it is safe to do so, students and teachers will be eager to get back to campus and its important social benefits. Getting the balance right will be critical and if universities can stand firm and continue their momentum for change, investing in a hybrid approach to learning, then the system can become more flexible and inclusive, opening universities up to a wider pool of talent. The innovation and diversity this will bring to the workplace in the future is an exciting prospect.

Mark Sweeney, Regional VP, Citrix UK & Ireland

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Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

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Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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