Press Release

Universities Must Step Up to Survive After COVID-19, Global Experts Urge in Economist Intelligence Unit Panel Sponsored by Qatar Foundation

DOHA, Qatar and WASHINGTON and ATLANTA and LONDON, May 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Students will have the power to bankrupt universities that do not meet their expectations in a post-COVID-19 world, a US educator has warned at the launch of a major new research report into the future of higher education, commissioned by the Qatar Foundation (QF).

‘New schools of thought: Innovative models for delivering higher education’, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), has outlined how higher education institutions must adapt to survive as they face dwindling public funding, questions over their value, and the challenges that technology and automation pose.

As the report was launched today, a EIU panel discussion sponsored by QF saw education experts from three continents explore its findings and share their views on the future of higher education, with Ben Nelson, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute, saying: “Students have an extraordinary responsibility this year because, for the first time in living memory, they have the ability to bring institutions down to bankruptcy.

“They can vote with their feet in a way they have never been able to do before – opting to slip out of college for a year can literally shut down an institution. For the first time, the student’s role is that of the determinant partner – determining what universities should be doing and which ones should have the right to serve them going forward.

“When societies and students are interfacing with institutions and not getting what they are paying for, there is going to be a reckoning.”

Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, President of Spelman College, told the discussion that academic partnerships are “extremely important in days like this”, adding: “Institutions have to stop being so precious and siloed and sequestered.”

“Everyone benefits from collaboration, but it takes a very different mindset to what we have now. If we fall back into marketing and competition mode, we are not going to get anywhere.”

And Francisco Marmolejo, QF’s Education Advisor, said higher education institutions must “challenge their assumptions”, saying: “Unless we do that, disrupt, and are willing to take risks, as soon as conditions return to some sort of normal, we may try to become the same as we were before. This crisis is telling us we no longer have the luxury of assuming things will be as they used to be.”

‘New schools of thought: Innovative models for delivering higher education’ can be downloaded here.

A recording of the discussion is available here.

Qatar Foundation – Unlocking Human Potential

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) is a non-profit organization that supports Qatar on its journey to becoming a diversified and sustainable economy. QF strives to serve the people of Qatar and beyond by providing specialized programs across its innovation-focused ecosystem of education, research and development, and community development.

QF was founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Amir, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who shared the vision to provide Qatar with quality education. Today, QF’s world-class education system offers lifelong learning opportunities to community members as young as six months through to doctoral level, enabling graduates to thrive in a global environment and contribute to the nation’s development.

QF is also creating a multidisciplinary innovation hub in Qatar, where homegrown researchers are working to address local and global challenges. By promoting a culture of lifelong learning and fostering social engagement through programs that embody Qatari culture, QF is committed to empowering the local community and contributing to a better world for all.

For a complete list of QF’s initiatives and projects, please visit:

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This material is distributed by RF|Binder Partners Inc. on behalf of the Qatar Foundation. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, DC.

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