The articles in this special issue have been contributed by the keynote speakers at the 6th Global Higher Education Forum 2018 (GHEF 6.0) held from 8 to 10 October 2018 in Putrajaya, Malaysia, organised by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), with support from The HEAD Foundation.
The higher education ecosystem in the current century is experiencing a major transformation that is crucial to adapt to various challenges (local and global). Massification, equality and equity, 21st century graduate skills, translational research, STEM, financial resources, technological advancement, learning innovations, ranking systems, and Sustainable Development Goals are among the issues that affect and mould the changing landscape of higher education.
Hence, there is a need for higher education to become an integral part of the global agenda and changes, mobilising HEIs worldwide, and turning goals into actions. Furthermore, the higher education ecosystem is currently experiencing the onset of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR); it is imperative to adapt to future circumstances, and exploiting the 4IR advancements can be one of the essential catalysts for development. Hence, significant policy reforms and innovations are needed for HEIs to bring about these changes.
The integration and synergising of knowledge, industry and humanity are believed to be the driving aspects for higher education to strive for excellence, and adapt to a dynamic ecosystem. Constantly harnessing knowledge is an important driver for HEIs to soar to greater heights.
Simultaneously, HEIs need to enhance joint venture and collaborative partnership with industry to produce in-demand Research, Development and Innovation (RDI), and talent pools. The aspect of humanity that values such partnership, inclusiveness, ethical leadership, stewardship, community building, and volunteerism must not be ignored. Thus, these three elements must co-exist and be linked to ensure a balanced and sustainable higher education ecosystem.
This is to ensure that our HEIs are flexible and resilient enough to thrive in an unpredictable, fast-transforming world. Given the existence of the global challenges and the fact that the higher education ecosystem is undergoing fast-changing development, it is crucial to explore gaps and future strategies of HEIs in adapting, and mitigating occurring issues in this dynamic ecosystem. The 6th Global Higher Education Forum 2018 (GHEF 6.0), held from 8 to 10 October 2018 in Putrajaya, Malaysia, served as a platform for multistakeholders (such as academics, students, government agencies, policymakers, NGOs and industries) to discuss issues confronting the higher education ecosystem to promote discourse for solutions. This was an avenue to consider concepts, experiences, practices and research findings on diverse issues in higher education from various countries, contexts, and perspectives.
GHEF 6.0 sought to achieve the following objectives:
To serve as a platform for dialogues and discussions as well as to share research findings on current global trends, issues and development in the higher education ecosystem
- To provide opportunities to exchange institutional, national, regional, and international perspectives with regard to various higher education issues
- To facilitate national, regional and international collaborations in the provision of higher education
- To create guidelines on the way forward for sustainable developments of higher education
The intended outcomes of the GHEF 6.0 were:
- Establishment of a clear understanding and aspirations in positioning HEIs towards global prominence as highlighted under shift 8 of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education), which may be achieved through
- i) an informed understanding of the current and emerging issues in the development of higher education
- ii) sharing of knowledge and experience in tackling issues in the higher education ecosystem
- Enhancement of networking and international collaborations with different stakeholders and industry players
- Provision of pertinent document(s) that may act as a guideline for relevant policy makers towards enhancing higher education development
- Publications in high-impact journals that promote quality research and knowledge sharing GHEF 6.0 deliberated on several sub-themes from global, regional and national perspectives relating to the elements interacting in the dynamic ecosystem of higher education and striving for knowledge, industry and humanity.
Thus, sessions were planned in a way that allowed participants to explore, communicate, discuss and debate their perspectives and/or findings from evidence-based studies and seek understanding among the stakeholders from diverse contexts who participated in the forum. GHEF 6.0 brought together scholars, representatives and professionals from government agencies, HEIs, humanitarian and civil bodies, private business entities, NGOs, the media, and students. The biennial forum sought to discuss and share experiences of the challenges and developments in the dynamic ecosystem of higher education and how the aspects of knowledge, industry and humanity can propel higher education in a challenging environment. These discussions included concept papers, comparative studies, case studies of specific countries and how academic intent is translated into action. Participants learned from each other’s experience in adapting, strategising and determining the optimal response for their individual countries.
Hazri Jamil is Director of the National Higher Education Research Institute (Institut Penyelidikan Pendidikan Tinggi Negara — IPPTN), Universiti Sains Malaysia.