Janusz Kozinsk has enjoyed a distinguished academic career in leading institutions in the USA, Europe, and Canada. He is an internationally-renowned higher education leader, research and entrepreneur, and one of the world’s most widely acknowledged experts in sustainable energy systems and immune building concepts focused on anti-bioterrorism. Previously Founding Dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University, Canada, Janusz is the inaugural President and Chief Executive of NMiTE, the UK's new engineering university in Hereford.
Value is never as simple as measuring the financial cost versus return on that investment.
When we buy a house, we will likely consider the possible future increase in price, but that is not how we measure the value of living there. We also consider things that are harder to measure but vitally important; intangibles like whether our children will be happy there, whether we will be secure, whether it “feels” right.
When a student considers their choice of university or program, we should not reduce them to “rational” actors simply making an investment decision to be measured purely by their potential future income. Nor would we benefit as a country, if we began to consider higher education purely as a ‘value for money’ equation – we don’t want a nation of high earners, we want a nation of innovators and inventors.
It is my belief that the best way to create value in a system is to increase the variety and vitality within that system. As a chemical engineer myself, I am inspired by the natural world more than I am by industrial processes.
Our climate, our brains, and the Earth itself are obviously complex systems. These thrive, and survive, with variety and vitality based on emergence, adaptation, and feedback loops. Complex systems are more like organisms than machines - where we typically consider inputs, processes and outputs.
Increasingly, enlightened engineers, economists and anthropologists are considering corporations, cities, and industries in much the same way - as organic distributive ecosystems rather than linear centralized models.
At NMITE - in partnership with the University of Warwick - we are doing things differently to produce graduates who are able to adapt and respond to the needs of the world around them. In order to do this, we need to be able to provide an education that can adapt and respond to students as individuals.
Our students will learn by creating in three-week “sprints”, instead of lectures and traditional courses. Students will study for 46 weeks a year to build portfolios, rather than taking exams, which will provide them with relevant experience and skills for their future careers.
We acknowledge that our approach won’t be for every student, and nor should it be.
We need to allow new providers into the system and allow existing providers to offer more variety, and offer different options for students of all ages. When providers are free to provide different choices, and when new models are encouraged, we can increase the likelihood of students to get the value they desire; not by deciding from the top what they value or what’s valuable to them.
We must of course use benchmarks to maintain quality and to ensure students receive a high-standard of education. At the same time, I believe we should resist standardisation - instead we should focus on enabling emergence, adaptation and feedback to bring vitality to the system.
As in any ecosystem, the successful survivors and thrivers are the most adaptable, most flexible, most attuned to their environment. In business, the companies that survive over the long term are those which understand the changing needs of their markets, the need to adapt and find the right partners.
In higher education, the universities that will survive - and thrive - are those that are able to adapt, that understand their customers, and that integrate feedback from students and employers.
Simply put, we need to view value through a wide lens, not just as “value for money”.
For more information on NMITE please click here.