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Shaping the World through Innovation, Leadership and Resilience in the Global Higher Education



Shaping the World through Innovation, Leadership and Resilience in the Global Higher Education in the Post COVID-19 Era



What is happening currently in the world is a major change with the nature of “breaking the traditional game” and “setting the new game” that has not occurred in the past 100 years. The impact of the great changes on the global higher education goes far beyond other fields. Oxbridge Model with a history of more than 800 years has never faced such a severe challenge. The world is now a different place to the one we knew. We need to be more imaginative and creative when socio-economic paradigms break down as they are currently doing.


However, there is an opportunity for innovation and experimentation. Innovation has never been as important as for today. There is an opportunity for the global higher education to tackle the digital landscape and identify solutions, new working approaches, innovative services and processes that create positive change in the global higher education.


Nowadays, we will need fresh perspectives and profound strategic thinking to address a set question. What is the sustainable model of the university? Could the online innovative model substitute the traditional one? Could the vision and mission of the university be delivered without compromising the quality? How will global higher education evolve over the next 20 years? How can governments and education institutions take the challenges and make the most of the opportunities in the post COVID-19 era?


No doubt, technology enhanced learning has been playing a key role for the continuity of the education and learning. However, the side-effect of this, such as, severe disruption of the learning journey, inhibition of the enthusiasm for teaching and learning, frustration of the students, and their absence from the university’s participation system, lack of a familiar academic atmosphere on campus, etc. will have a long-term effect on the student journey, and education quality, which must be addressed and attended.


Please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Richard Li-Hua, Founder and President of ELITE Innovation College Cambridge (EICC) and the General Convenor of University President Forum 2021 London. Many thanks for CAHE’s invitation to its grand event in Guangzhou. With our accumulation of 15 years of global academic resources, we launched EICC at CAHE’s Annual International Forum at this time last year. One year on we have made tremendous progress. In this keynote, I would like to address and share with you the following three points:


Firstly, what have we done and achieved?

To address the various concerns highlighted previously, our establishment of ELITE O2O (online and offline) Education Platform with 4 ELITE dedicated colleges is an exploration of an innovative education pedagogy of integrating the delivery of programmes, knowledge, contents, and education ethos with a global vision embedded in the teaching and learning strategy. This system demonstrates how various features and objectives of innovative and entrepreneurial university can be created, translated, articulated, and achieved in a learning organization context. By using our past experiences and global academic resources, we make every endeavor to convert the special ELITE knowledge into general education knowledge in the liberal arts education delivered though the O2O structure with our well-crafted teaching and learning pedagogy.


ELITE is an acronym of e-learning of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship within an O2O Innovation University in the global higher education. ELITE O2O initiative is a strategic instrument which reforms the traditional approach of class-room based teaching and learning. The distinctiveness of this system is to highlight that the teaching and learning mode is decided not only with the impact of the virus but also by the nature of knowledge. Explicit knowledge is delivered online while tacit knowledge is transferred through face-to-face.


EICC was born in the heart of innovation, Cambridge during the pandemic with a strong mission of leading and pushing innovation. With a dual headquarters in Cambridge and Zhuhai and its O2O structure, it demonstrates that it makes a difference -attributes and spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and resilience have been built into the blood and DNA of the College. We feel privileged to work with our partner universities in the UK which allow us to deliver their postgraduate and research programmes while we connect with and serve as a graduate school of undergraduate universities around the world via our O2O structure.


Secondly what do we feel the important characters that we need in the post covid-19 era?

In this difficult time, I would like to discuss three words: Innovation, leadership, and resilience through which we shape the world in the global higher education. These words support and complement to each other.


My philosophy in this difficult time is that transformational leadership is that which embraces innovation, and can bring about strategic change that delivers growth, effectiveness and sustainability. Leadership roles are those that translate the vision and mission of the universities into deliverable and measurable objectives and goals, develop and implement the corporate strategy and facilitate the execution of the university’s strategy by: 1). building alignment; 2). winning minds by sharing the vision of the organisation and 3). expanding the capabilities of others


Global leadership is a process of influencing the thinking, attitudes and behaviours of a global community to work together synergistically toward a common vision and common goals. We feel that the global leadership plays an important role as we have colleagues from eight different countries working together.


Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Rresilience can be defined as the ability – and tendency – to “bounce back”, which is what people do when face disappointment, or mistreatment, or defeat, or failure, but instead of wallowing or letting things keep down, people get back up and continue with their work and lives.


In this challenging time, what we need is not only innovation and leadership but also resilience. Resilience is more important today than ever. No doubt universities should have a strong commitment in providing the education of innovation and entrepreneurship, but themselves need to become more innovative and entrepreneurial and demonstrate strong leadership with resilience to make change for the enhancement of the student journey.


Thirdly how did we work, study, and live at EICC

I am a strong believer and advocate of lifelong learning. And I believe that life is best for those who know how to work, how to study and how to enjoy. At EICC, we love and celebrate diversity with different cultures. We fully understand that we live with the pandemic. To make our work, study, and life more meaningful, colourful, and interesting, we have set up both Wechat and WhatsApp groups to accommodate different cultures and habits of colleagues in eight different countries in the global village. In the meantime, we have Work Group, Study Group and Life Group for colleagues to make engagement with each other, enjoy work, study, and life. In this zigzag journey, we are not only creating this innovative and entrepreneurial university, but also pioneering the innovative way of work, study and live during the pandemic and in the post COVID-19 era.