Expert: Debates about the abandonment of the university infrastructure are groundless and premature

2 february 2018

"The Digital Economy program envisions including the professional education in high school curricula, offering people personal development trajectories and digital competencies profiles as these are key trends that are going to define the transformation of university education," Analytical Center expert Inna Karakchieva said speaking at the round table titled Universities of the Future: Trends and Prospects.

On the other hand, detailed discussions about the deterioration of the financial state of universities should be held in a manner that takes into account the demographics and infrastructure of our country's universities, Ms. Karakchieva believes. Thus, the continued trend towards the students’ number decrease (the demographic decline is expected to hit 5% by 2024) and the restructuring of the universities network (their total number is to be cut by a factor of 1.3) are having an impact on the amount of state funding being invested into the system. In the meantime, the introduction of digital technologies and the creation of network universities are leading to the creation of a completely new model of higher education.

According to Ms. Karakchieva, the imbalance between the system that assesses the activities of universities, the licensing and accreditation mechanisms and the bidding procedures for allocating the control enrollment numbers must be minimized as the education sector is getting more and more digitized. But, to achieve that new institutional and infrastructure conditions are needed so as to shift focus towards finding and supporting talent.

The system for supporting gifted children and youths through school and preschool that is being developed in our country must be included as part and parcel of the professional education systems through offering standardized, sufficiently flexible and varied conditions.

As the education sector is changing, the role of universities is changing, however, the heated discussions about the abandonment of the university infrastructure are groundless and premature, Ms. Karakchieva is convinced. After all, the university based education system is not just about knowledge, competencies and training, it also exerts huge influence on social isolation and activity of people, research and innovation that ensure the development of highly skilled human capital.

"The goal is not just to train highly skilled specialists with no regard to principles and morals but rather to educate active citizens that pro-actively take responsibility for whatever is happening in the country," the expert concluded.

Photo: from open sources