The future challenges of scientific and technical higher education

Cesco, Stefano, Zara, Vincenzo, De Toni, Alberto F., Lugli, Paolo, Evans, Alexander and Orzes, Guido (2021) The future challenges of scientific and technical higher education. Tuning Journal for Higher Education, 8 (2). pp. 85-117. ISSN 2340-8170


The world is experiencing significant changes, including exponential growth of the global population, global warming and climate change, biodiversity loss, international migration, digitalization, smart agriculture/farming, synthetic biology, and most recently a global human health pandemic. These trends pose a set of relevant challenges for the training of new graduates as well as for the re-skilling of current workers through lifelong learning programs. Our paper seeks to answer two research questions: (1) are current study programs suitable to prepare students for their professional future and (2) are study programs adequate to deliver the needs of current and new generations of students? We analyzed the professional figures and the skills required by the job market, as well as the number of students enrolled in technical-scientific HE study programs in Europe. We discuss the needs of future students considering how the teaching tools and methods enabled by digitalization might contribute to increasing the effectiveness of training these students. Finally, we shed light on the different types of HE study programs that can meet the educational challenges of the future. Received: 23 June 2020Accepted: 04 May 2021

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