Reimagine: Higher education

Episode Three with Fred Swaniker and David Johnson

Reimagine Podcast 3

“Talent is distributed evenly around the world. What is not is opportunity.”

Around the world universities have closed their physical doors and temporarily moved online due to Covid-19. That creates all kinds of challenges. But it’s also a chance for us to re-examine the very idea of a university in the 21st century. Higher education has been broken for a long time. Costs are out of control and in many parts of the world a university education is a privilege most could only dream of. Conversely there is a mismatch between what is taught and the skills needed for the 21st century meaning that many graduating students are burdened with debt and can’t find jobs.

Across Africa higher education has for too long been seen as a luxury the continent cannot afford. According to the World Bank, in sub-Saharan Africa just 9% of young people enrol in tertiary education. That compares with 60% in the UK, and 88% in the US. Yet a vanguard of unconventional start-up universities is flourishing there. One of them is perhaps the boldest experiment in higher education on the planet – the African Leadership University or ALU.

The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship’s Director Peter Drobac talks to ALU’s founder, Fred Swaniker, about his vision to transform higher education in Africa by making it cheaper, more accessible and purpose-driven. His goal is to develop 3 million ethical and entrepreneurial leaders for Africa and the world by 2035. Could this be the future of higher education? Peter explores global trends and possible solutions with international education specialist David Johnson.

Reimagine is a new podcast series about people who are inventing the future. Presented by Oxford Answers and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. New episodes on Thursdays.

Producer/editor – Eve Streeter