Expert Jamil Salmi analyzes the Universities of the Future

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The University of the Future is a concept that has cropped up frequently in recent years in reference to the incorporation of technology into certain processes that will have a significant impact on student life. Expert in Transforming Higher Education, past coordinator of the World Bank’s Tertiary Education Program and current Board Member of u-planner, Jamil Salmi knows that it is more than just an institutional model. Universities are currently experiencing growth in multiple areas and this poses considerable challenges, including in terms of administrative, financial and academic management. The starting point is learning based on new interactive models and the use of digital tools to evaluate students and provide them with immediate feedback.

In this new type of institution, prepared for the challenges of the future, the educator no longer needs to wait until the end of the year or the semester; instead, comprehensive monitoring of classes can now be instantaneous. “I believe that we are not yet aware of the full extent of the possibilities that technology can bring to education,” comments Salmi.

The Moroccan expert has studied the development of Higher Education in recent years, publishing his book The Tertiary Education Imperative: Knowledge, Skills and Values for Development (Salmi, 2017). Salmi describes universities as having the tools necessary to deal with global challenges such as climate change, migration, global epidemics, a tumultuous world economy, financial instability, greater inequality, global trafficking and terrorism, to name but a few. Since joining u-planner, his focus has been on Digital Transformation and the future of Higher Education, asking the question: How can we position ourselves as an institution capable of influencing society?


Code of conduct for the University of the Future

In his blog Global View on Tertiary Education Salmi proposes a number of principles which World-Class Universities (WCU) must adopt, and which are a requirement for the Universities of the Future.

1. Inclusiveness

WCUs must find ways to include a diverse student population, removing financial barriers and unnecessary selection mechanisms. Many studies have demonstrated that greater diversity within the university community improves the teaching and learning experience, promoting tolerance and open-mindedness.

2. Ethics

WCUs must devise academic programs that emphasize ethical values and behaviors that promote honesty, tolerance and solidarity, ensuring that these values permeate the culture of the institution as a whole.

3. Objectivity

Another important value that WCUs must promote is critical thinking. According to Salmi, teaching, learning and research must be conducted in a scientific way and communication must be honest in order to reinstate the academic tradition of free and fair debate that has been undermined by relativism and political correctness.

4. Relevance

Research undertaken by WCUs must address global challenges and real-world problems.

5. Global collaboration

Competition to secure a higher ranking impedes the harmonious development of institutions; progress through collaboration will yield greater improvements for society in general.

Technology in education

A Higher Education Institution (HEI) open to Digital Transformation prepares its students for a changing world, helping young people not only to develop professional competences but also transversal skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, effective communication, and problem solving.

For Salmi, the University of the Future is an institution which works not only with high-school graduates but with adults and older people. As such, their design needs to change; “we must explore how algorithms can help to create networks that establish permanent links between graduates and their universities—Lifelong learning, but stronger.”

Another relevant factor according to Salmi is management of strong academic infrastructure, as this is an important part of the educational experience for students and researchers. With this factor in mind, but also considering an appropriate management configuration, Salmi states that “without an appropriate governance set-up, a strong leadership team, a well-thought curriculum and qualified academics, the beautiful campus will remain little more than an empty shell.”

Salmi recommends that Higher Education leaders make use of tools that will allow them to grow without sacrificing quality. “Institution building is a long-term process that requires stable leadership, continuous improvement and patience,” says Salmi. “This is especially true when it comes to developing the robust scientific traditions needed to produce leading-edge research and technological applications.”

Salmi’s in-depth knowledge of u-planner’s solutions and experience with HEIs have led him to throw his support behind Digital Transformation: “u-planner uses cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence to improve the education experience for millions of students around the world,” says Salmi. “The work done by u-planner helps universities to prepare themselves for the future because, although “the future is now,” the problem is that it is distributed unequally. u-planner helps universities to apply these highly useful improvements and to offer a more powerful experience to the students themselves.”


Higher Education expert Jamil Salmi presents the principles of World-Class Universities and emphasizes how technology can help these institutions to become Universities of the Future.