Learning for Tomorrow, Today: Future Fit Universities for 2040

An innovative future-focussed Higher Education Symposium bringing together students from more than 10 universities across Europe will take place in Brussels in early November. The main objective of this free symposium (only a few places remaining) is to explore different scenarios for Higher Education by 2040 and help shape futures thinking with a strong learner perspective on new models and approaches to teaching and learning. In addition to a strong student presence, the symposium has been designed for rich dialogue between educational leaders, policy-makers and industry stakeholders.


Why a Focus on 2040

A child born today will not graduate from a European university until around 2040. The question is what type of university education will they experience in another 20 years from now? How will universities have responded by 2040 to the major challenges and forces of change facing our societies, and the Higher Education sector in particular? The student voice is central to this unique future-focused symposium as we discuss ‘learning for tomorrow, today’. Students will feature throughout the event as we look to challenge conventional institutional thinking and to reimagine the teaching and learning experience for better futures – for all.


Brussels, Dutch House of Provinces
Rue de Treves 59


Programme Outline – Tuesday 6th November

10:30 – ECIU Student Summit (Students Only)

12:30 – Lunch

‍13:00 – Welcome from Moderator

13:05 – Welcome from Rob van Eijkeren (Head of Office Dutch House of Provinces)

13:10 – Introduction to ECIU and the Big Questions by Professor Mark Brown

‍13:20 – Student Insights – Teaching and Learning in the University of 2040

‍13:50 – World Cafes – Exploring the Big Questions (led by students)

15:00 – Refreshment Break

15:20 – World Cafes Report Back

‍15:45 – ECIU Response to the World Cafes

‍16:00 – Stakeholder Panel Discussion

– Adam Gajek (European Students’ Union),
– Thérèse Zhang (European University Association),
– Vanessa Debiais-Sainton (European Commission),
– European Parliament (TBC)

16:45 – Summary Comments

16:55 – Close of Event

‍17:00 – Networking with Refreshments

Event Host

The Symposium is being hosted by the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) under the leadership of the Steering Committee for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, chaired by Director of the NIDL.

Further Information

You can register and find more information about this event on the ECIU’s website:


If you have any further questions about this event, then please do not hesitate to contact Olga Wessels in ECIU’s Brussels office:


Success of DCU-Fuse in Reimagining the Future

DCU-Fuse was a unique 24 hour online envisioning and collaborative brainstorming experience, which took place over 30th & 31st March 2017, in partnership with students to engage stakeholders in development of a new 5-year Strategic Plan (2017-2022). FuseThis innovative project, first of its kind in Europe, was framed by Dublin City University’s (DCU) mission of ‘transforming lives and societies’ and strongly anchored in five core principles of ethical leadership: inclusion, openness, collaboration, sustainability and transformation for better futures. The objective was to canvas the community for ideas using an innovative online platform during World Open Education Week to shape and reimagine the next phase of the University’s development.

The unique DCU-Fuse platform was structured to support 32 separate online conversations over 24-hours across four channels, covering a variety of themes, which engaged the DCU community in meaningful dialogue related to the University’s future. NIDL staff was actively involved in leading and contributing to these conversations. Almost 6000 separate online posts and contributions and over 7000 likes were shared, along with around 80,000 page views, over 24-hours. Importantly, the DCU-Fuse experience also established thriving physical hubs on each academic campus supported by students throughout the 24 hours.


A distinctive feature of the DCU-Fuse experience was the underlying conceptual framework designed to reflect the University’s mission, core principles of ethical leadership, and contemporary models of open, inclusive and transformative online learning. More specifically. DCU-Fuse integrated key elements from three seminal theories on learning technology innovation. Twitter Fuse

Firstly, Laurillard’s (2013) Conversational Framework informed the platform design and engagement model by ensuring rich feedback loops. Secondly, Garrison, Anderson and Archer’s (2000) Community of Inquiry Framework was influential in fostering a strong sense of presence and community amongst participants, augmented by rich interactive content. Notably, each conversation was facilitated by a member of the University community, with support from a team of moderators who participated in relevant training. Thirdly, Hattie’s (2015) concept of Visible Learning based on a synthesis of over 1200 meta-analyses informed the platform usability and structure of conversations to enhance the flow of activities over the 24 hour period.

The DCU-Fuse experience was also invaluable in leveraging the University’s wider digitalisation agenda. Put simply, DCU “walked the talk” by infusing technology throughout our institutional culture in a truly open, inclusive and transformative experience. As Niall Behan, the new incoming Students’ Union President, comments:

“DCUFuse brought large-scale town hall meetings to the 21st Century online environment. This level of commitment to ensuring all opinions are heard, is part of a holistic model everyone at DCU is proud of. By being self-reflective and inquisitive in this manner, all aspects of the student experience can be improved, creating an even better institution”.

The following presentation on DCU-Fuse experience was later presented in June by Professor Mark Brown at the annual European Distance and e-Learnng Network (EDEN) conference.