Future of education unveiled at global conference

University of Sheffield vice chancellor Sir Keith Burnett.
University of Sheffield vice chancellor Sir Keith Burnett.
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The President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield has unveiled what he believes will be a revolutionary concept in higher education, research and teaching at a global conference in China.

Speaking to an audience of tech innovators and industry leaders from around the world, Sir Keith Burnett described an approach to education matching the transformation of next generation technologies which integrates the latest technologies with industry needs and global partnerships.

Speaking at the Global Innovator Conference, he said: “This is a ground-breaking approach to education which began in Sheffield through our in-depth work on the very latest applications of technology and collaboration in advanced manufacturing with partners such as Boeing.

“From them, we learned that we need to completely rethink our boundaries, so it is no longer possible to see where the lab and lecture theatre end and the factory begins. Our Factory 2050, for example, looks more like an Apple Store than most people’s idea of an industrial research lab, and in it you see industrialists, research scientists and engineers, PhDs in AI and apprentices working side-by-side.

“We are taking virtual reality and bringing it all the way back to the reality of design and production.”

Known as Education 4.0, it is the intellectual property of the University of Sheffield but the institution is already working with global partners to develop its potential.

Sir Keith said “We know that Education 4.0 offers us the chance to do enormous local good, creating new opportunities for young people in our communities in the UK, while simultaneously working with our partners in China, in South Korea or in Portland, Oregon.

“To develop this concept – and it is of course still developing fast – we are working with the world’s best. We are using technologies to cross borders, to challenge old divides and to reboot the economy as we do it.

“It really is the future.”