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Cisco India Education Study Tour, Australia 2019 – Tour Report

April 15, 2019

I recently returned from a Study Tour to Australia with executives from top Indian Universities, B-Schools & K-12. The purpose of the tour was simple: “To enable Indian Education Institutes to interact with and learn from some of the most innovative and experimental universities and economies in Australia.”

The pace of change in higher education makes sharing and collaboration between universities essential. The tour was designed to visit 3 of the most digitally progressive universities in Adelaide & Melbourne, namely Flinders University, Deakin University & University Of Melbourne & catalyze interactions between Indian & Australian universities to learn from each other. The visits were followed up with attending Digital Education Summit at Cisco Live Melbourne.

The learning were apparent by the themes that arose during the tour:

1. Universities need to rapidly transform 

Technology is fundamentally changing the nature of work. Technology will increasingly take on the most repetitive and regimented tasks, freeing people up to work on things people do best. Jobs most vulnerable to disruption will continue to be those involving routine and repetitive tasks. This changing reality is particularly profound for universities which are not only responsible for `teaching people how to think’, but also ensuring that they are job ready.

2. Universities need to become living labs and invest in digital campuses

Universities are increasingly considered to be a microcosm of cities and experience the broad range of issues present in medium sized cities: transport congestion, rising energy costs, safety concerns and challenges with space utilization. As cities have become smarter – particularly in India – so have university campuses. The term digital campus come to encapsulate a broad range of technologies that can be applied to teaching and learning, administration and research functions.

3. Universities need to future proof people, processes and digital platforms

The pace of change in higher education is forcing institutions to focus on agility of their systems, processes, people and infrastructure. While universities can’t necessarily predict the future, they can ensure they are able to respond quickly and decisively. Physical infrastructure such as classrooms need to be flexible and customized so that they can adapt to the individual preferences of students but also evolving teaching and learning models.

4. Learning needs to change, and universities need to be more data driven

Capacity to draw insight from data is seen as a competitive advantage. Just as private sector business models are underpinned by access to rich data, universities are increasingly using data to improve decisions about all aspects of their operations.

5. Universities need strong industry partners to help them navigate change

Universities visited as part of the study tour recognized that industry partnerships with critical. Cisco’s partnership with Flinders, Deakin, Melbourne, Curtin, Victoria and La Trobe universities were profiled as part of the tour. The partnership with Cisco takes a number of forms, including:

Collaboration on innovation projects
The roll out of Cisco’s Digital Schools Network (the DSN)
The Cisco Networking Academy
International study tours
Digital campus

Digital is both the cause of and response to a number of major shifts that are happening in higher education. On one hand digital is changing the face of the labour market, raising student expectations, intensifying competition for Institutes and making it more difficult for industry to effectively forecast. At the same time it is enabling personalization at scale and creating significant opportunities to more effectively engage students and improve outcomes. The tour received great feedback from all the delegates & we thank them & the host executives from the Australian Universities for making it meaningful, informative & value for everyone’s time & efforts.

Read the Education Study Tour Report

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