Let’s hope class boundaries are broken down in education in a future Norwich

PUBLISHED: 19:00 13 February 2019

Prof David Richardson, vice chancellor at the University of East Anglia. Picture: ARCHANT

Prof David Richardson, vice chancellor at the University of East Anglia. Picture: ARCHANT


Looking ahead to Norwich in the year 2040 and the shape of education in the future is a big ask. Futurology is a notoriously imprecise science.

UEA vice-chancellor David Richardson. Picture: UEAUEA vice-chancellor David Richardson. Picture: UEA

But there are some clear themes we can predict will continue to lead to changes.

Technology will continue to change learning and teaching at a rapid rate. Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, virtual reality, drone-based teaching, and robot-based teaching are no longer science fiction. We are already living with these technologies now.

They all have great potential to enhance and support learning but teachers will continue to be needed because we only really learn through high quality human interaction. Indeed, the kinds of human skills and knowledge you need to be a great teacher in primary, secondary, further or higher education are the exactly the kinds of skills AI and robots cannot help us with.

Learning is also likely to be more personalised, with students of all ages practicing skills and consolidating knowledge in online environments, and teachers using learner analytics to plan next steps. That trend doesn’t just rely on learning technologies, however, but also on the need to look at properly resourcing teachers and teaching to be able to offer more personalised learning.

University of East AngliaUniversity of East Anglia

This takes us to educational policy.

Every government is determined to tinker around endlessly with education. Post-18 education is currently being examined by the Augur Review and we await its findings with interest. It’s encouraging to see a review that looks at post-18 education broadly and not just in terms of universities and let’s hope that spirit follows through in the eventual report.

By 2040 my fervent hope would be that the way social class tends to define educational boundaries will have disappeared.

Traditionally, university is seen as something the middle class aspire to. All too often further education or technical education is perceived as being ‘for’ the working-class. I hope that we will see the links between higher and further education grow stronger and those boundaries break down.

The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Picture: Butterfly EffectThe Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Picture: Butterfly Effect

UEA innovates and embeds research into teaching, which is why it promotes teaching excellence, research excellence and civic excellence. The university will continue to be a key anchor and driver of the city vision and provide global outreach through its alumni around the world, through attracting international students and staff to Norwich, and through educating globally through online provision.

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