Looking ahead at the post-pandemic world
Prof. Rocky S. Tuan (top left) is confident that the global higher education sector will emerge stronger after the pandemic.
While COVID-19 has disrupted the fundamental operational mechanism of the higher education sector worldwide, Prof. Rocky S. Tuan, Vice-Chancellor, is optimistic that the sector will emerge stronger after the pandemic with a renewed commitment in global partnership.
Prof. Tuan shared his views at a panel discussion comprising presidents from three continents at the Universities UK International’s International Higher Education Forum 2021 on 14 April, where they examined whether systems around the world are radically reforming international activities in response to COVID-19.
Chaired by Prof. Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, other speakers on the panel included Prof. Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge; Prof. Margaret Gardner, President & Vice-Chancellor of Monash University; and Mr. Jude Sheeran, Principal of International Education & Research at Amazon Web Services.
Prof. Tuan compared the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to a tsunami which has seriously disrupted the fundamental operational mechanism of the knowledge business that universities are in. He observed that with widespread adoption of online learning, information collection and transfer now is largely done on the cloud. With less safe-guarding and monitoring of these collections of information, they may become contaminated and result in misinformation. The ability or rather the inability to control this will have dire consequences. Prof. Tuan urged universities to use their collective efforts to address this as our world, very much like the Internet, is borderless.
Prof. Tuan also called for stronger international collaboration in what he described as the ‘three-legged stool’ of higher education, namely education, research and service. In particular, he urged for greater collaboration in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which serve as unifying themes for different communities of people across the globe. He considered that SDG 10, the goal of reducing inequalities, as the most important one as it is the root of many different societal problems. He illustrated this by citing CUHK’s global engagement efforts including a Virtual Student Exchange programme launched last fall under the Association of Pacific Rim Universities which has attracted participation from 26 universities across four continents.