Heriot-Watt University has launched a series of online courses it says are designed to both “upskill” non-traditional learners and meet the needs of industry around the world.
The global higher education initiative – called Heriot-Watt Online – will be officially launched at Expo2020 in Dubai, the six-month global trade event celebrating “opportunity, mobility and sustainability”.
The initiative includes undergraduate and master’s courses as well as apprenticeships, and, says the provider, responds to the changing demographic of learners – broadly, older, more female, and in full-time employment – post-pandemic.
Courses have been co-created with, and will be co-delivered by, businesses and industry bodies and cover subjects including digital transformation, data analytics and supply chain management and logistics.
“The devastating impact of the pandemic has accelerated acceptance and understanding about the benefits of digital learning but also highlighted the urgent need for businesses to build a suitable talent pipeline who are trained for the future jobs market,” said Dr Gillian Murray, deputy principal of business and enterprise at Heriot-Watt University.
Many people simply can’t take time out to study due to financial or personal circumstances. It’s essential that universities facilitate this shift in approach to education – Dr Gillian Murray, Heriot-Watt University
“The demographic of learners is changing and is unlikely to go back to the pre-pandemic landscape. Our largest student group by age is now late 30s and early 40s with a higher percentage of women as barriers are broken down to accessing higher education.
“Workplace skills are also changing rapidly, so both employers and employees must keep pace. Heriot-Watt University has spent the past two years undertaking a detailed analysis of the current marketplace and researching the needs of business, identifying where the gaps are. We conducted research with students, industry bodies, partners within corporate businesses and academics to design this new learning approach.
“Many people simply can’t take time out to study due to financial or personal circumstances. It’s essential that universities facilitate this shift in approach to education, continuing to cater for students who are leaving school but ensuring that adult learners can receive a world-class education at any age, anywhere in the world. We are breaking down the borders and barriers many people face when trying to reach their career goals by offering a flexible approach.
“Non-traditional students will soon outstrip traditional campus-based students so initiatives like Heriot-Watt Online will allow learners to continue in full-time employment, gain credit for their work-based projects and accelerate the skills that are relevant to their role, informed by the needs of their employers.
“Our ambitious Industrial Decarbonisation Research & Innovation Centre (IDRIC) – run by Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer – is at the forefront of helping traditional industries to cut their emissions and tackle the climate emergency. Our National Robotarium is developing technology to help humans stay safe by finding robotic solutions to decommissioning nuclear power stations, servicing offshore wind turbines, or navigating hazardous terrain for search and rescue following natural disasters. These advances in areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence highlight why it’s so important for our students – no matter their age or location – to continue to develop their skills.”
Heriot-Watt Online will be launched during Heriot-Watt’s own day-long Future Skills Conference at Expo 2020 in Dubai on Wednesday (8 December).
Heriot-Watt University has campuses in Scotland, Malaysia and Dubai.
You might also like: Professor Sir Geoff Palmer named new chancellor of Heriot-Watt