Paul LeBlanc at UCJC: “Technology is changing everything we need in higher education to prepare students for their future”

As part of the Global Education Forum 3rd ActPaul LeBlanc, President of Southern New Hampshire University (USA) gave a talk to the students and professors of the School of Education at Camilo José Cela University.

“Higher education is a regulated field, and it is more difficult to change and innovate when you are highly regulated,” he stated in his conversation with Nieves Segovia, president of SEK Education Group. In his talk, entitled Rethinking Higher Education for Equity and Opportunity: A Book Talk with Paul LeBlancPaul and Nieves discussed the present and future of universities, the challenges and opportunities for transformation that have accelerated in recent months, lifelong learning, the role of students and teachers and the prominence of technology in this whole process.

“We are considered the most innovative university in the northern United States because of the way people study. We focus on new ways of thinking about competency-based education”, Paul stressed in his speech. In addition, he advocated for the educational model offered at Southern New Hampshire University because in recent years they have detected divergences between the perception of the traditional university world and what is expected of it in the corporate world. “Employers no longer trust university graduates, in fact, only 12% believe that graduates are sufficiently prepared to enter the world of work” and in part justifies this disconnect because “at universities we need to try new things. We need regulators, government regulators, accreditation to try new things, but if you want some of these new things, you have to let them do it,” he said.

Paul indicated that for this model to be possible we must have sufficient technological development, since “everything we need to think about higher education is changing in order to prepare students for their future” and in part it is because now the perception of when and how much time we spend studying has changed. “What we want to do is think about how real learning is measured in real time. It is the control of time and the amount of time available that varies a great deal between privileged and less privileged people”.

Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc has been president of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) for 17 years. Under his leadership, SNHU has grown from 2,800 to over 170,000 students and is the largest non-profit provider of online higher education in the country. Paul is a member of NACIQI (National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity), as well as the council of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on higher education and the workforce. In 2018, he was awarded the prestigious TIAA Institute Hesburgh Award for Excellence in Leadership in Higher Education. Paul immigrated to the United States as a child and was the first person in his extended family to go to college, earning degrees from Framingham State University (BA), Boston College (MA), and the University of Massachusetts (Ph.D. ). From 1993 to 1996 he ran a technology start-up for Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company, served as president of Marlboro College (Vermont) from 1996 to 2003, and became president of SNHU in 2003.