The Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) Conference jointly hosted by the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and SAAIR finished on a high-note on 15 November 2018 at Maharani Hotel, Conference Centre in Durban.
The three-day conference, themed: ‘Re-imagining our universities: the role and impact of institutional research in times of disruption’ commenced on 13 November 2018, and was preceded by three pre-conference workshops hosted at DUT’s Hotel School, Conference Centre on 12 November 2018.
The final day of the conference received a captivating keynote address by Neil Butcher, OER Africa, and the topic of his address was: ‘Public Universities and the Quest for Relevance in the Face of Digital Disruption’.
In his address he argued that the main challenge facing our society is the high rate of youth unemployment as well as the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), and called for a new approach in our education system in order to address these challenges.
“I don’t get a strong sense of urgency from the Higher Education sector in terms of adapting to the demands of 4IR. If you look at the way we design our curriculum, it still assumes that there is scarcity in terms of access to information, which is not the case,” he said.
“In my view I believe that we require a different approach in our education system in order to meet the demands of the modern world. We need to teach our students to be adaptive and flexible. We need a Higher Education system that prepares people to thrive in perpetually uncertain times,” said Butcher.
He added that it is important to reflect on the role of the universities in the current world. “We also need to look at the form and structure of the universities because that will assist us to know what we still need within the system and what we can do without,” added Butcher.
He also urged academics to conduct research that will be responsive to the needs and aspirations of ordinary people.
DUT’s Director of Institutional Planning and 25th SAAIR Conference Chair, Nicky Muller hailed the conference as a huge success, and expressed gratitude to all sponsors who supported the conference as well as delegates for their participation. She also thanked the outgoing SAAIR President, Dr Juan-Claude Lemmens for his contribution.
SAAIR aims to advance research and analysis leading to the production of improved management information for understanding, planning, management, and operation of higher educational institutions and agencies. It also seeks to encourage the development and application of appropriate methodologies and techniques from many disciplines to further such research, analysis, and planning.
The 26th SAAIR Conference will be hosted by the Tshwane University of Technology in Mbombela, Mpumalanga next year.
Pictured: Dr Liz Archer, Dr Juan-Claude Lemmens and Nicky Muller.