A UK-wide inquiry into what the widespread use of new technologies by university and college students could mean for higher education begins its work today. Chaired by Professor Sir David Melville CBE, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Kent, and backed by the leading bodies in UK higher and further education, the Committee will consider the impact of the newest technologies such as social networking and mobile devices on the behaviour and attitudes of learners coming up to, and just arrived in, higher education and the issues this poses for universities and colleges.
The past few years have seen dramatic growth in the availability of a wide range of affordable, high quality personal communication tools and technologies. Young people in particular are shaping their lives and influencing their environment in line with these highly interactive technologies which they now take for granted as part of everyday living.
While developments in technology have been charted and changes in learner behaviour noted, there are sig‘Students are in the forefront in the use of new technologies, and their experience and expectations have far reaching implications for institutions of higher education'. nificant policy and strategic challenges which, national education bodies believe, need greater and more widespread attention. It is these that the Committee of Inquiry has been set up to address.
Committee Chair Professor Sir David Melville said ‘Students are in the forefront in the use of new technologies and it is changing the way in which they interact with each other and the world about them. The arrival of learners with such radically different experience and expectations has far reaching implications for institutions of higher education. This Inquiry is timely, as is the opportunity to explore these important issues. I’m delighted to be chairing it’.
The Committee, with membership drawn from the university, college, school, student and employer communities, will run for around 9 to 12 months and will work to produce a final report by the end of year.
Sir David said ‘The Committee’s task will be an exacting one, but it has a strong membership with an excellent range of perspectives to bring to bear on it’
Diana Warwick, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: "UK universities are already leading the way in the use of new technologies to enhance the learning experience.
"Over the last ten years or so, the internet, in particular, has transformed the way students access information. These technological developments present a major opportunity for higher education. This inquiry will certainly help inform universities about the likely trends and challenges ahead."
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Notes for editors
The organisations backing the Committee of Inquiry are: DEL (NI) (Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland); HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England); HEA (Higher Education Academy);HEFCW (Higher Education Funding Council for Wales); Jisc (Joint Information Systems Committee; LLUK (Lifelong Learning UK); LSC (Learning and Skills Council); SFC (Scottish Funding Council); and Universities UK.