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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Re-inventing University

Wrote the following in response to this picture upload, after my morning run yesterday. I didn't expect a long essay, but it just flowed. Here it is:


Universities need to be reinvented. No lectures. No lecturers. No classrooms. But a master curriculumnist that structures a syllabus to the student's needs, abilities and pace. Training material will be slides and videos, either from the university, or selected by the curriculumnist from the Internet.

The student can contact tutors of respective specialisations if they need academic help or if they have questions. At least half of the tutors must be full-time practitioners from the industry. The other half must be PhDs with ongoing research activities.

Exams will be set by a board, mutually exclusive from tutors and curriculumnists. Exams will test the students' knowledge and master of the first principles. Where practicable, all questions will be scenario based, preferably picking up a seemingly mundane happening that students see everyday. All questions are compulsory. There will be no multiple choice questions.

There will be no fixed quota to pass or fail students. Those who don't make the grade fail. Simple as that. The passing marking will be fixed at 50 marks.

There will be no students' appraisal of lecturers or anyone else. As there will be no lectures. If they fail, it will be their own bloody fault!!! 

Curriculumnists will be appraised by senior management of industries that employ his graduates.

Tutor performance is measured based on how many students under his charge pass.

Examiner performance is measured by how many students examiners fail.

Universities are funded based on number of students that pass (no mere headcount) and the quality of research work of their tutors. Quality of research work is based on the number references made to their papers and/or how many patents in their name are realised into products (and how successful are the products). NOT MERELY HOW MANY PAPERS THEY CHURN OUT IN A YEAR!!!

Now, the best part: since there is no physical classroom constraints and that all curriculum are individually customised, anyone keen can be admitted. There will be no school fees, however, students failing the course will have to pay the full fees of the course in arrears. Given that there will be huge savings in physical campus space, staff and the shedding of traditional infrastructures, governments should have money to afford this free education for all.


Then this morning, I got an email from about their newly created website at to encourage institutions to use their material for the lessons.

Such synchronicity!

Universities being turned into documentary video productions are mentioned by illuminating thinkers and authors like Buckminster Fuller and Alvin Toffler, as far back as the 1970s. Now we are seeing them in action.

For other posts on education, click here.