SEK-Atlántico and Southern New Hampshire University teams, winners of the Global Education Forum Hackathon

University education must take into account the opinions and needs of students, its main actors. Which is why a Hackathon was organised at the Global Education Forum in which over 1,000 students from different universities from around the world and over 300 colleges and institutes from the five continents took part. The goal was to know what university today’s students need.

Presenting the conclusions and winners of the Hackathon were Eva Cano, Director of International Relations & LanguageLab at Camilo José Cela University, and Beatriz Carratalá, Project Manager at SEK Education Group. Eva Cano said that students started with the question: How can universities be better?

Participants have focused on proposing three aspects that should be added to current higher education, three which should be discarded and the three that should be kept and preserved. Of the 22 university teams and 9 school teams, 13 reached the final. Each team consisted of between 8 to 40 participants. Students were asked to create a prototype with the solutions agreed in the Hackathon, presenting a video and a document explaining the process. Beatriz Carratalá commented that all the students’ proposals were evaluated by professionals from Camilo José Cela University and external experts.

The judges took into account the projects that provided added value, viability and the impact that it can have on higher education, in addition to great quality, creativity and presentation. To the question of what universities need to do to improve, the school teams reached some conclusions, including: promoting life experiences; visiting prestigious companies and professionals to learn about their real needs; a global and online campus; focusing on wellness and the Millennium Goals; bolstering sustainability; critical thinking, and being more accessible to the global population, with more grants and scholarships.

The conclusions of the university teams included becoming a collaborative, practical and experimental space; bringing the business world to the university, with internships from the first year of study; improving students’ self-knowledge, with reflections on who they are and what they want to be; increasing social relationships and participating in community services. All participants in the hackathon received a certificate of participation and the winners a year’s license for COURSERA. Finally, the teams from the SEK International School Atlántico and Southern New Hampshire University were proclaimed winners of the Hackathon.

The proposals of SEK-Atlántico students for the university of the future included improving facilities, practical classes, uniting knowledge and technology, three-year degrees, flexible timetables, reducing matriculation fees and an entrepreneurial faculty.

For their part, students at Southern New Hampshire University proposed a university where students are prepared for the real world, where digitization is ubiquitous for all actors in education and students lead their own development and that is more focused on the economy. Finally, and after thanking all the teams for their participation and congratulating the winners, Eva and Beatriz announced that the projects submitted by over 1,000 students will be published on the Global Education Forum website.