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Chair of WTUN, Professor Brian Cantor writes about “Technology Universities – Making knowledge work” for UWN

Technology universities – Making knowledge work

The 21st century has seen the growth of a global market in information and knowledge. Science and innovation have become the key drivers of economic growth and societal development and technology universities are at the forefront, doing applied research that can be translated directly into benefits for people and society and delivering professional and vocational courses that enable their graduates to move directly and successfully into high-skilled job markets.

Unlike the traditional role of conventional universities as ivory towers for contemplative study and scholarship, technology universities are now playing a direct role as creators of wealth and motors for economic, social and technological change.

At the same time, the problems confronting the world are increasingly complex and systemic. Obvious examples are endemic poverty and ill health, climate change, energy and water supply, and collapsing states, migration and terrorism.

Collective strength

The World Technology Universities Network or WTUN has been launched as a response to these challenges.

WTUN consists of a wide range of different universities, geographically diverse, large and small, public and private, new and old, resolutely non-elitist and non-exclusive, committed to working together to do cutting-edge, challenge-led research and to provide socially relevant education for the next generation of global citizens.

The objective is to harness our collective strength, resources, expertise, experience and intellectual capital to make knowledge work for the benefit of society.

WTUN activities include sharing best practice on collaborative research to tackle the world’s problems, developing new teaching methods to educate global citizens, enhancing interactions with business, commerce, government and non-governmental organisations, creating new companies and small and medium-sized enterprises, running innovative student competitions and developing joint policy statements on key issues.

These activities contribute to all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, with four identified as initial priorities: gender equality; good health and wellbeing; clean water and sanitation; and sustainable cities and communities. We have three major current workstreams, on gender equality, innovation and entrepreneurship and the application of technology in learning.

Expanding the membership

WTUN was discussed initially at the first annual World Technology Universities Congress or WTUC1 in 2016, and was then launched at WTUC2 the following year in Bradford in the United Kingdom, with 18 founder members from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America. WTUC3 was held in Chennai in India late last year, when a number of other universities joined, and yet more indicated that they would join this year.

The network is growing rapidly, with an ambition to reach up to about 50 members over the next few years. Associate members include businesses and NGOs such as UNESCO, with over 300 additional university links.

We are actively seeking new members to contribute to this growth and strengthen all our activities. WTUC4 will take place in October in Taipei, Taiwan, and all universities, institutes, government agencies, NGOs and partner institutions are welcome.

Professor Brian Cantor is vice-chancellor of the University of Bradford, United Kingdom, which is a member of the World Technology Universities Network.

This article was originally published and  is available at University World News

© World Technology Universities Network 2019