Imagine… a university with no mandatory degrees or majors

Imagine… a university with no mandatory degrees or majors

Balzhan Orazbayeva

One that offers access to learning in real time from anywhere. One where everyone can acquire knowledge and skills through customised, on-demand learning experience that is designed and tailored to what learner wants to achieve. One that provides education beyond degrees through cross-disciplinary and experiential immersions that bring learners virtually or physically together from all over the world.

This is the university of the future.

This is a safe physical and/or virtual environment where learners are not instructed but trained on how to learn and re-learn. This is where learners create their own learning paths and help to educate each other and apply knowledge in real time. ‘Pick and mixed’ programmes designed by learners are accelerated by learning leaders from different industries and disciplines and supported by variety of latest technologies and tools.

Learners are able to top up the skills they’ve acquired with just-intime applications and short and sharp on-the-job trainings that fix skills gaps and furthermore help to solve real-world pressing challenges.

Working side by side with companies, start-ups, scale-ups, governmental and non-governmental institutions, learners have the opportunity not only to validate and translate the acquired knowledge and skills into tangible outcomes, but to contribute to the local communities and society at large. Not striving for any degrees, learners don’t choose the major but declare a mission. Thus learners create their own purpose-oriented and mission-driven learning experiences that accelerate both outward social impact and personal sense of meaning.

That is the university that embraces social inclusion and provides access to education to everyone who is curious and eager to learn. A chance to get higher education is not a privilege anymore but an inalienable right that is about giving people of all ages the right opportunities to inclusive and equitable lifelong learning.

Affiliated with the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre (S2BMRC) at Münster University of Applied Sciences (MUAS) in Germany, Balzhan Orazbayeva researches university-business cooperation and social innovation. She is a researcher in the consulting project for the European Commission (DG Education and Culture), implementing the largest European study in the area of university-business collaboration. She leads creative research process as part of Erasmus+ project in the field of social innovation. In her role of educator, Balzhan is a lecturer in social innovation and social entrepreneurship. She also coordinates industry projects executed by students in Münster School of Business. Balzhan is a doctoral candidate at Free University of Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam) and focuses in her PhD on higher education in the context of university-business cooperation. She holds a Bachelor degree on International Relations from German-Kazakh University (DKU) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and a Master degree on Integrative Project Management from Dresden University of Technology (TUD) in Germany.

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