Publications | 21 Sep, 2023

Working Paper 9: The digital evolution of higher education: From high-cost failures to high-risk futures

Richard Watermeyer

Deputy Programme Director

Hanne Shapiro


Chen Zan


The societal contribution of higher education is for many inestimable and time-honoured. In an age of spectacular technological innovation, however, the role and relevance of universities is increasingly scrutinised and challenged. In this article we consider how universities are being impacted by and responding to a seemingly infinite emergence of new digital technologies particularly as relates to their role as facilitators of high skilled knowledge economies. We draw on the varied perspectives of those with intimate expert knowledge of the challenge of digital disruption to the global higher education sector and what the harnessing or refusal of digital technologies by universities means for the future of education and work. In so doing, we consider the contribution and limitations of universities in cultivating individuals who are not only world ready but world resilient; able to face and surmount the vagaries of digital transformation.

Working Paper 9 by Richard Watermeyer, Hanne Shapiro and Chen Zan. Download full working paper here.

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