Towards a New Generation of Engaged Universities:
The Need to Act, Adapt and Transform

16th – 18thApril, 2024 | Kempinski Central Avenue (Formerly the Address Dubai Mall), Dubai, UAE

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6th MENA-HELF Theme

Towards a New Generation of Engaged Universities:

The Need to Act, Adapt and Transform

16th – 18th April, 2024 | Dubai, UAE

The 6th MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum (MENA-HELF) organized by the Center for Learning Innovations and Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS) will be back in April 2024 in its 6th edition.

We invite you to join more than 300 senior leaders and decision makers from across the globe during our flagship two-day and a half event to discuss and debate emerging trends impacting higher education, opportunities, barriers and practical challenges encountered as well as solutions and strategies universities must adopt to meet the rapidly disruptive environment in which it operates and embrace transformation.

The MENA HELF aims to bring together higher education leaders, decision makers, researchers and representatives from different regulatory bodies, IGOs/ NGOs, etc. to exchange and share their experiences on various aspects of Higher Education. It also provides a dynamic platform to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and good practices.

Why Join the 6th MENA-HELF?

  • A broad range and variety of activities, including workshops, panel discussions, debates, focus groups, presentations of case studies, keynote addresses and practitioner insights.
  • A professional, friendly, and engaging environment for networking with peers from different parts of the globe.
  • A unique learning opportunity for individuals working to transform their universities to ensure they continue to be agile and responsive to a very dynamic future
  • A hands-on learning occasion through workshops, learn by doing through participating in practical workshops prior to the start of the conference.
  • Learn new tools and methodologies, reflect on your own understanding and experience and interact and network with peers.
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It is Time to Transform Higher Education

Higher education just like any other industry has been subject to disruptive forces on a global scale and is facing unprecedented challenges and one of the biggest periods of uncertainty. There is not a single aspect of education today that hasn’t been utterly shaken by technological advancements, financial pressures, changes in society demands, educational reforms, and more recently by the pandemic which has exacerbated the pressures that higher-education institutions face.

There has been a raising number of fundamental questions about higher education, some of which include:

  • How do we cope with rapid technological changes and effectively embrace them?
  • How do we prepare students for jobs that do not exist yet and for challenges we cannot anticipate?
  • How do we ensure our research is impactful and meaningful in addressing some of the most pressing political, economic, socio-cultural challenges we face?
  • How can we compete in industries and with business models that haven’t even been invented yet?

Universities across the globe are striving to overcome these challenges, overcome these disruptive forces and find answers to many of the above questions to ensure they continue to bring relevance and to positively contributing in enriching their societies. Leaders of higher education need to adapt to a new era of “always being ready to transform”.

As the pace of change continues to accelerate, transformation has become an imperative and universities are in need to adopt radical transformation that enables to operate in a more flexible and resilient manner and to emerge stronger on the long run. Crisis very often require us to renew ourselves, albeit in a disruptive way.

The 6th MENA-HELF will explore the meaningful prospects that higher education institutions can bring such as innovative learning and teaching practices that will prepare students for future jobs, the overall student experience and how it contributes to student success and to prepare a new generation of leaders, the importance of lifelong learning, the contribution of the sector towards the community and towards achieving sustainable development goals.

Streams

The MENA HELF returns in April of 2024 for its Sixth edition addressing the following streams
Track (1): Innovation for Societal Impact

Universities play a pivotal role in serving their communities, which has over the years been seen as one of its three fundamental purposes.

Moreover, they are essential in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda across all four of their key functions: learning and teaching, research, external leadership, and internal operations & management. This entails more than simply identifying existing SDG capabilities; it involves integrating sustainability principles vertically and horizontally across diverse communities of practice. For universities to perform their unique function as enablers of change, they need to simultaneously embrace their role as targets for and enablers of change, ensuring that they are role modelling the sort of approaches and impacts they want to engender. Consequently, this track will delve into several crucial issues, including but not limited to:

  • Embedding Sustainability in Higher Education: Strategies for integrating sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across learning and teaching, research, external leadership, and internal operations.
  • Lifelong Learning: Exploring the importance of continuous education and non-traditional forms of learning, such as micro-credentials and stackable degrees, in responding to evolving workforce demands.
  • University-Industry Collaborations: Discussing effective models and best practices for collaboration between universities and industries to foster innovation, knowledge transfer, and economic development.
  • Service to Society: Examining the role of universities in engaging with local communities, addressing societal challenges, and making a positive impact through community service initiatives.
Track (2): Adaptive Teaching and Learning

There is a growing consensus that higher education should stonily focus on the development of students’ employability skills by fostering more engaging learning experiences that promote student autonomy. It is crucial that Higher Education Institutions regularly review and enhance the curriculum to align with the rapidly changing demands of the industry. Moreover, there is significant discussion surrounding the importance of embracing less structured and rigid curricula and creating space for greater variety. This entails advocating for alternative pathways, multiple streams of education, and a broader range of credentials that empower individuals to upskill and reskill themselves as required, enabling them to apply these newly acquired skills immediately in the workforce. The topics to be addressed in this track include:

  • Digital Education: Exploring innovative approaches to digital education, online learning, and leveraging technology to enhance teaching and learning experiences.
  • Transformative Pedagogy & Practice: Discussing pedagogical approaches that promote student engagement, critical thinking, creativity, and autonomy, preparing them for future employability.
  • Assessment Theories & Methodologies: Examining new assessment methods and tools to effectively measure student learning outcomes and competencies in a changing educational landscape.
  • Curriculum Design & Development for Future Careers: Addressing the need to design flexible, interdisciplinary curricula that equip students with the skills and knowledge required for emerging careers.
Track (3): Innovative Research

There has been a growing misconception regarding the role of research in educational institutions and its impact on teaching, students, the university, and society as a whole. Unfortunately, the prevailing trend has been to prioritize quantitative metrics for evaluating research, rather than encouraging impactful and meaningful research that fosters creativity and intellectual initiative. However, such research is crucial for universities to effectively transform and engage with other industries and society at large. This track aims to explore the various topics that highlight how institutions are actively promoting and nurturing creativity, innovation, and leveraging technological advancements. Among topics discussed are:

  • Nurturing Creativity & Innovation in Research: Discussing strategies for promoting and supporting creativity, curiosity, and interdisciplinary research within educational institutions.
  • New Models for Research Collaborations: Exploring innovative approaches to foster collaborations between academia, industry, and other sectors to enhance research impact and address societal challenges.
  • Leveraging Technology for Research Impact: Discussing the role of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and analytics in advancing research, knowledge creation, and intellectual initiatives.
  • Rethinking Research Impact Metrics: Debating alternative approaches and metrics to assess the impact and value of research beyond traditional quantitative measures.

Track (4): Enhancing the Student Experience

One of the key roles of universities is to create an environment that nurtures the intellectual, social, and personal growth of students throughout their university journey and beyond. Recognizing and valuing the diverse student body, promoting equity, and envisioning universities as inclusive and safe communities that actively challenge discrimination and prejudice are essential aspects. Additionally, proactive initiatives aimed at fostering students’ self-confidence and resilience play a critical role in preparing future graduates to thrive in an uncertain future. This track will address several important issues related to:

  • Nurturing Creativity & Innovation in Student Experience: Exploring strategies and initiatives to foster creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation among students, promoting their personal and professional growth.
  • The Hybrid Campus: Exploring the Future of Learning Environments In an era of evolving educational models. This theme delves into the design and implementation of learning environments that blend physical and virtual elements.
  • Leveraging Technology for Student Engagement: Discussing the effective use of technology, virtual and augmented reality, and AI-powered tools to enhance the student learning experience and support their overall well-being.
  • Redefining Metrics for Student Success: Debating alternative metrics and frameworks for evaluating student success beyond academic performance, encompassing holistic development, employability, and well-being.
  • Data Analytics and its Role in Improving Student Retention and Engagement: The availability of vast amounts of data presents a unique opportunity for universities to enhance student success through data analytics. This will focus on the use of data-driven approaches to improve student retention and engagement.
  • Student-Centered Approaches: Exploring innovative practices and policies that prioritize student needs, preferences, and diversity, creating inclusive and supportive learning environments.