Jim Garrison, Presidente e fondatore di Ubiquity University, racconta com’è nata l’idea di Ubiquity University, l’università globale, ci parla del suo background, della partnership con ITI Integral Transpersonal Institute, e non solo:
Q: JIM – tell us a little bit of yourself – your background and what led you to the educational sector?
A: I’m a recovering intellectual at one level; I’m motivated by the urgency of now, what Martin Luther King called the “fierce urgency of now”. I believe that the human race has been called to an account, the like of which it has never had to deal with before. I think we’re in danger of losing civilization as we know it due to the fact that we are not dealing with climate change and a range of other issues. I believe that the most important challenge facing the human race is the change of consciousness, so I founded Ubiquity 15 years ago with the goal to create a global learning institution that could change consciousness. That’s what motivates me 24/7 through 365; it’s a great adventure and I’m meeting amazing people. Because of this, Ubiquity finds itself at the cutting edge of the re-invention of learning on planet earth as we know it. It’s a very exciting time and my life feels infused with ultimate meaning.
Q: What did you do before Ubiquity?
A: I was working in International Relations with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union during the second half of the 1980’s all the way up to 2001, I was involved in Soviet-American relationships as I wrote my PhD dissertation in Cambridge on the moral implications of nuclear weapons. Whenever we talked about nuclear weapons we felt like they were needed because of the Soviets, so in 1982 I went there and I realised that the Soviets were just like us [Americans] – absolutely no different – and that the whole nuclear weapons armed race was a construction and that the Russian threat was used as a legitimisation of nuclear and conventional arms production within the reason –it was the excuse, the public rationale. I ended up doing a lot of work in Soviet- American, Soviet-European relations for many years. I worked with the senior leadership of the Soviet Union and met Mr Gorbachev in 1991 and starting 1992 to 2001 until 9/11 I worked with him convening leaders all over the world around the challenge of transforming conversations that mattered into actions that mattered to make a difference. Then, in the aftermath of 9/11, I re-invented myself and was asked to come into a small graduate school in California to take it over and do a turnaround – I said I’ll do that on the condition that the board authorises me to begin a 10 years process to create the first global university with a whole new kind of learning. 10 years later Ubiquity emerged and here we are: in a partnership with ITI which in its own way is at cutting edge of learning – what Pierluigi has done through ITI is entirely consistent with everything in which UU believes in, not only because it’s cutting edge, but because it’s fundamentally integral and UU is completely integral. Our Chancellor is Ken Wilber, so everything about UU is integrally framed and it’s at the heart of who we are as well as ITI.
Q: Where does UBI come from? As a name and project.
A: Ubiquity is a Latin term meaning everywhere and UU aspires to be a university to be attended anytime and anywhere. All you need is a smartphone, which become the students’ campus, students can carry their campuses in their back pockets or purses. UU is what its name conveys and it has been generated out of an impulse to do something that would change consciousness. Plato in the Republic says that the ultimate revolution is not in violence or violent overthrown of one government over the other, but the revolution is changing the mind of the young of the next generation and that’s UU’s mission, to contribute to the redemption of humanity in this particular time of evolutionary history by making it possible for young people everywhere to learn the mindset, tool sets and skill sets that they need to come together and solve global problems.
Q: Tell us something about Wisdom School, what is it and what’s the difference between UBI and Wisdom?
A: The Wisdom School was the original school. When I came in in 2005 I renamed the university Wisdom University and embarked on a deep exploration of the different wisdom traditions. We were the first academic institution that developed what we called Geomythology. You know there’s Greek mythology, Irish mythology, etc – but what about the mythology of the Earth? What are the stories that emanate from the Earth? I believe that the Earth is a living, breathing, intelligent organism – it isn’t just some rock that we happen to sit upon but it’s alive as we are – we’re alive, intelligent, caring, as the earth is. We’re creatures of the Earth. Everything that human beings embody comes from the earth. The greatest tragedy for Western civilisation brought about by the enlightenment is the cutting off of humanity from the Earth. So, one of the things that the Wisdom University did was and that UU is continuing, is learning to live with the Earth as a child with their Mother and to learn the language of the Earth. Because the Earth is completely capable of intelligent communication, all the species communicate intelligibly with one another except people – we’re the only ones that are out of the global conversation and that’s one reason why we are doing so much damage. So, one of the things we pioneered at the Wisdom School was how you come back into communion with nature, but intelligible communication with nature – It’s perfectly possible to talk to a tree, to an animal. There are stories all over the place of people having conversations with cats or dogs.
UU is a for profit company because we wanted to raise a lot of money through investment in order to build a global institution so we purchased the intellectual property of what was previously Wisdom School and it came into the new institution UU and is now our Wisdom School. We convene courses through the Wisdom School. It’s like JF Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a lot of Universities have schools and UU is no different. It’s the sacred heart of the university and every year in Chartres we convene our Mystery school which is curated by the Wisdom School.
Q: How would one do that? how do you come back into communion with nature – & what’s the difference then from Eco-Psychology?
A: Eco-Psychology is very much around the nature deficit disorder, so around the fact that people are not spending enough time in nature and around the psycho-emotional diseases that have to do with the fact that people never go outside and smell the roses and walk in the forest, because we are creatures of the Earth and if we cut ourselves off from the earth all kinds of bad things happen. Think of for example Carl Jung – his analysis of the Nazis at base was that he said that German people had cut themselves off from nature, and when you cut yourself off from nature you get ungrounded. Then he said that any psychopath can come and sell you any kind of bill of good, but because you’re cut off from your own roots, your susceptible to the mass psychology of fascism. It happens in the US with Trump, the American people are disconnected from reality, from the Earth and from each other, and guess what? A strong man takes over, so Eco-Psychology is around understanding humanity within the framework of the Ecofield. That’s different from what UU is doing, by extend we believe that the real challenge of humanity is coming into intelligible communication with Nature. So one of the things that we are going to be establishing at UU – that I’m taking personal responsibility for actually as founder of the university – an Institute for interspecies communication. We’ve held courses in Texas, for example, where we take students out to a sacred rock. Only the tip of which protrude on the earth and for the last 12 thousand years the Native American have held rituals there and have considered that rock to be sacred, like Airs rock in Australia. The capacity to know, commune and to communicate with the telluric energies of the earth becomes more refined and more possible. So, at UU we’re cultivating that capacity of human beings to be more psychic, to be more available. UBI tries to activate those capacities as quickly and as effectively as possible. That’s where ITI comes in – what Pierluigi Lattuada has been pioneering for the last 40 years is Bioenergetics, Integral Transpersonal Psychology: how do you activate the totality of who you are by reconnecting with the natural order of things? That’s what shamanism is: the shaman in traditional societies was that person who mediated the experience and the communication between society and nature: that’s the shaman. That’s what BTE is all about and that’s what ITI and UU have such a strong partnership because Pierluigi has been doing it in Italy for the last 40 years what UU has been wanting to bring now worldwide. That’s why we’re interested in students of ITI getting their degrees with UU because we can provide the academic credibility from an accredited university and ITI is working with us to provide content etc. But it’s all rooted in our common commitment to the shamanic practices of linking society and nature.
Q: How did you find out about ITI and what led you to collaborate with Pier?
A: I met a guy and he invited me to speak at a EUROTAS Conference in Moscow many years ago. Then I was invited to the next one in Moldova and in those conferences, I met Pier Luigi and immediately recognised that Pier is an extraordinary man, he’s an extraordinary being – he actually embodies what he’s teaching. Most teachers they can speak what they think, but only true masters embody what they know. And Pier happens to be one of those and I’ve always loved people like that to talk about how we could work together and we’re looking for the Pier’s of the world, people who understand intuitively and experientially what it is that UU is about and that was the genesis of the relationship. Then when we found out that in Italy there’s a need for psychotherapy community for BA, MA and PhD degrees from accredited institutions we began to realise that we could really come together in a powerful way and both take together the courses that ITI is teaching to a global level, but build academic degree programs that can be of service to various people not only in Italy but in Europe – psychotherapists that would like to get degrees in ITP etc. through UU. So, it’s a very good strong partnership.
Q: How did your background in International Relations get you to work where you’re working now? Where does your drive come from?
A: Working with Gorbachev and all that kinds of people at that level around the world around the nuclear weapon issue, the environmental issue, etc. One becomes more and more acutely aware that we’re running out of time to solve global problems and that’s what led to the creation of the Wisdom University first and then UU and the more time I spend in nature, the more time I spend in my persona practice, the more time I meditate, the more you just feel the fragility of human being on the planet, and the more you’re just overwhelmed with love for everything that we seemed to be decimating and destroying and throwing away. We treat ourselves, the others, the Earth as if it was garbage and it’s a shocking thing! It hurts my heart to think about Donald Trump and exploration of oil in the arctic, and oceans of plastic now, concentration of plastic in the oceans that are as large as the entire country of France! I mean, my God! What are we doing to ourselves! It’s like a parent that throws their baby in the garbage bin! What consciousness is alive infecting the species homo sapiens that we need to have nuclear weapons. Right now, having this conversation, Italy, the US and all the countries of Europe are bound together in an alliance with nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert focused on China and the rest of the world and we don’t even think about it! I think about it and it wakes me up at 3am and being who I am I got to do something about it! You got to do something about what you know! It’s a matter of that I love life and I want to dedicate my life to preserving that which I love.
Q: What do you think is the role of education in the current system?
A: I think the role of education in the current system is to dull the mind and to create and enforce conformity. Right now, education is in a criminal alliance with the state and it doesn’t matter whether it’s Italy, China, England, Brazil or the US – the educational system as it is currently constructed on planet earth is a criminal alliance to keep people from understanding who they are and what they need to do to save themselves and our civilisation. That’s a strong statement but anybody who’s been to school will be able to testify to that. And that’s why people wake up to the planetary crisis and climate crisis and say why did anybody tell me about this? There’s a conspiracy of silence reinforced by education and that’s what UU is trying to take on – we’re trying to re-invent education, we’re trying to re-invent competency, learning, humanity’s relationship with the Earth and a whole new way of engaging and learning. You know what Socrates said that true learning is not about the acquisition of knowledge, true learning is about remembering who you are. Think about that for a second: from the time you start kindergarten in the conventional educational system, until you finish your PhD what are you doing? You’re memorising information and when you memorise a lot of information, you become a specialist, and if you do what I did and memorise so much information your head gets bigger, they give you PhD! They’ll even call you a doctor! That’s not what learning is about: learning is about beating the drum, dancing in the forest, going into meditation, communing with yourself and nature, remembering who the educational system has been designed to get you to forget. That’s what UU is doing. That’s why our curricular design we learn a little, but we spend just as much time remembering who we are. Then we spend just as much time – it’s trilateral – so 1/3 is knowledge, 1/3 is self-mastery and 1/3 is impact, you have to take what your head knows and what your heart feels and use your hands to bring something out into the world. So that’s Plato’s the True, the Beautiful and the Good – you got to know what’s true, you have to develop your self-mastery you have to become beautiful, find you beauty internally and then you have to do good within the world, that’s the true the good and the beautiful, what Ken Wilber calls the “I, the We and the It”, the it is the knowledge, the I is the personal development and the We is what we do collectively. So UU has been designed according to the sacred geometry of deep mystical truth.
Q: So how do you think education and especially higher education can make an impact in the world?
A: Well, we want to wake people up for a start. There’s two times in a person’s life when they’re open: 1) the most open time is 0 to 12 months and then 0 to 7 years – remember the Jesuits: “Give me your son for the first 7 years and then you can have him for the rest of his life, because he’s already ours.” The second time a person tends to wake up is when they become teenagers and they want to throw off everything that their parents and the establishment tried to force them to become. So higher education tries to take them beyond adult at that moment when they’re trying to reformulate who they are to some modicum of freedom and shape them into becoming a more constructive human being. So that’s where UU comes from. Consider UU as a revolutionary act – we’re engaged in true revolution and trying to wake people up so that they can be more open to the realities and then come together with their peers to solve the critical problems that need to be solved in order for humanity and civilisation to survive.
Q: Which hard skills do you think are needed today in the job market and in the world?
A: I think the one hard skill that people need to master is technology. You got to know technology to exist on planet earth in the 21st century. You got to understand the conflation of infotech and biotech is now reshaping our world. You got to understand that for the first time human beings are separating intelligence and biology and putting it into machines. You got to be able to navigate technology. But then there are soft skills that are equally more important.
Q: Do you see any soft skills that are more important than others?
A: I think there are basically 7 core soft skills that virtually every study ever done indicates as important. The first one is you need to be embodied, you need to be mindful, you need be aware and you need to know you’re in a body. Yu need to be healthy, you need to take care of yourself. That’s actually a soft skill. Treating your own body with softness. Learning mindfulness: corporations all over the world now are telling their executives and their work force to meditate. Why? Because stress is all over and unless you can manage stress, you’re going nowhere. The simplest and easiest way to manage stress is to meditate. Sit still and breath. Number two: you got to navigate and know how to deal with diversity. You got to know that the world is round and your capacity to form cross-boundary teams, deal with contradiction, deal with difference is a key SS. It’s a crucial SS. Especially if you want to work in a global institution or company. Number 3, you got to know innovation and entrepreneurship: we’re long beyond any day that you get a degree and someone is going to hand you a job. You got to create your future. That’s what Pierluigi did in creating ITI, that’s what I did in creating UU. All of us have to have an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset and got to be able to think out of the box. Number 4: you got to know emotional intelligence: you have to know how to manage emotions, you have to understand and manage the emotions of others. Being emotionally intelligent is equally important as being analytically intelligent. Then number 5: you got to engage in critical thinking, you got to be able to question authority, be able to look at what is real. You got to analyse reality ruthlessly and get beyond the propaganda that is coming all every day through television and the radio and social media. All the fake news you got to figure out what’s real and what’s delusional. Number 6: you got to be a leader and leadership isn’t just leadership over others, leadership is leadership over yourself. How do you become accountable? How do you do what you actually say you’re going to do? That’s a key ingredient in the work place to just be accountable for you commit to do. And of course, number 7 is Whole System Design: you got to understand how everything fits together. You got to look at the world from a systems point of view. How ecology affects economics, how finances affects geography. All the different aspects of our body, our psyche, the neuro, endocrine, our immune systems, our physical system, our emotional system, spiritual system all are part of the same and we need to learn how to look at the world as a whole. So, if you just think about that – those are just some of the SS that if you got the hard skills, you can get all the knowledge. This is what’s so crazy about school! You don’t have to spend time anymore memorising the periodic table, you can look it up in 3 seconds on the internet. Why do I have to know this? What I need to know is how you and I get along, how do I respect the differences between you and me? How do I manage my emotions, how do I engage in critical thinking so that what I get through this iPhone I can tell the difference of what’s real and what’s fake? That’s what’s important! That’s why all kinds of studies are saying that soft skills are emerging as more important than hard skills, because that’s what you need to navigate and that’s why ITI and UU are such good partners, because they’re both focused on teaching young people, and learners of all ages in that matter, in how to navigate through the world with SS. The etymology of the world mysticism comes from the Greek word nuo which means looking at the world with soft eyes which is how we need to approach the future. Just think of the damage we’ve done by being cleared-eye realists. It’s all about the head! If we are soft-eyed with each other that means we’re going to become emotionally in tune with each other, emotionally attuned with the world around us. We’re actually going to smell the roses and feel the roses and that’s what makes us more complete human beings in my view.
Q: Can you explain how students can benefit from the UU experience? Especially all the different generations?
A: If you think of what happens when you come out of a conventional school system you’ve accentuated your capacity to become analytical, to memorise scientifically based information. But all the data show that all human beings have at least 9 or 10 other intelligences: emotional intelligence, artistic, spiritual, connective, all kinds of different intelligences that just aren’t accentuated by the educational process, so that when you come out, you’re one pointed. Then you’re disconnected. If you come to UU, you’re going to go through a transformational experience that is going to open you up to who you truly are. You’re going to activate intelligences that you may not even know you possessed. And the more intelligences you activate, the more your natural human potential is unleashed. I can tell you there’s student after student that come through UU that says that I had no idea – I thought I was getting an education, but I got a lot more than that. I’ve become a new person, I’m now ready for the world, I’m now ready to navigate with others in a completely different way. So, I think that the opportunity in attending UU and taking courses through ITI as well as UU, you’re going to take the kind of courses that are going to make you a better human being. As we face the future, I can tell you, both as an educator and as a CEO of a global company, having looked at every major study done East or West, corporate & governmental about the kinds of skills human beings need to navigate in an increasingly hyper complex society in which AI, automation, robotics and change are shaping the future; what are you going to need in that kind of situation? It’s not more hard skills, it’s SS! So, when you come to UU you’re going to have a SS experience, that’s going to teach you what you know, but it’s going to really shape you in terms of what you are, because in navigating the future successfully, it’s not what you know, it’s who you are. That’s what UU is here to offer within the context of accredited academic institution that you can get degrees while you go through the process of self-discovery.
Q: There are tons of online universities, some of which are free. What’s a student going to gain from UU? Anything else than SS?
A: It’s an experience of a multi-dimensional learning system. It’s an experience of SS certainly, but there’s also hard skills which you need! You need head, if your heart goes around without a head it’s going to bump into a wall, but if the head goes out without the heart, you’ll probably knock the wall down! So, you need a learning system where your head, your heart and your hands are brought together in a unified whole. You can actually walk your talk and say what you think and then do what you say in a whole, in that 7 SS, in a whole system design. So, I think we are in very good company with a number of other institutions like ITI, we’re not the only ones who are probing this particular frontier. But our commitment is to activate your deepest potential and the deepest passion in relationship to the global challenges that need to be solved by our generation in partnership with the emerging generations.
Q: What do you think about studying online vs in a class room? What are the pros and cons? How does UU think this could benefit a student when studying online mainly?
A: Online makes it an anywhere/anytime experience. You can be anywhere: in bed, in a bath in Tahiti, in the Sorbonne and you can open up your smartphone and this is the university. But that is virtual. In person is the other side of that coin and so what UU tries to do is offer the students not only an online experience, but an in person experience. We believe in hybrid learning, so we have online courses, we also have in person courses, we have what we call learning journeys where the students travel as they will this summer to Chartres. We’ve takes students to India, to Japan, to Ireland, we’ve travelled all over the world. The globe is your classroom. So, let’s use the globe! Let’s access learning anywhere through our smartphones and come together on the learning journeys to sacred sites that are culturally or historically important sites and learn together in physical proximity. So, both are important in our view.
Q: Recognition of their diploma is key for most students: can you tell us more about that? Do you have any instances of students taking a degree at UBI and then continuing elsewhere?
A: Any school you graduate from will not guarantee you a job, that’s point number one. In the US right now 50% of all the college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. So, getting a job is much more about being innovative and entrepreneurial and having the right kinds of SS. Those are just the very important facts about the current world situation. If you go through the learning experience at the University of Rome you’ll have a certain set of skills that you can take to the market. If you go through UU and get a BA or an MA, you will have different kinds of skills that you will take into the market place. More and more companies aren’t even looking at your degrees, they want to know how competent you are! That’s one thing that UU is doing and I guarantee you the University of Rome is not doing, we’re developing a competency-based education. That’s a whole other subject, but it’s a very important one. So, you get the kind of learning that the institution will provide you and UU will give you a lot of training in SS, a lot of training in the sustainable development goals, sustainability, new thinking, etc. and that’s of value to you, and we believe that’s the most value that you can have right now in the global economy that’s emerging, than UU is the place for you. However, if you’re more conventional and you just want something from a regular, old, conventional Italian university, you should go there. UU is not for everyone. It’s for the people who want to develop their potential to a higher level than the conventional norm.
Q: I mainly meant if they’ve continued their studies somewhere else, like going into another university.
A: We’re accredited like any other university is and the university that you’ll go to will look at your BA’s degree saying from UU and it will be at the same level as If you came from the university of Milan or Texas or Beijing: a BA degree is a BA degree, no matter where it is in the world.
Q: Who’s sponsoring you? Who are your investors?
A: We have about 80 different investors, they’re all mostly small, individual investors. We have a lot of Dutch investors – our largest concentration are Dutch investors but all individuals. So, we haven’t taken any money that would in any way distort who we are as an academic institution. In fact, we are a social benefit corporation which means we are mandated by law to pay attention to people, planet and profit.
Q: Where do you see UU in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years?
A: Where UU is now is we’re just taking our educational product in the market. At the heart of which there’s a whole new way of learning based on competencies, not memorising information for a grade. In 5 years, we want to have 3 to 5 million students all over the world. By 2030 our goal is to be the largest educational institution in the world. That’s what we want to do: we want to change education as we know it; we want to have millions of students experiencing this new kind of learning and we want thereby build a network of activists and changemakers that are coming together with a shamanic heart and working with others to help solve global problems.
Q: Who are UU’s partners and what are your criteria of selection?
A: UU has a B2B strategy in addition to having a B2C Strategy and has a partnership with a range of organisations worldwide. We have a partnership with AISEC, which is the largest student run organisation in the world founded in Belgium in 1948 and now worldwide in 120 countries. We’re working with them to develop a competency-based learning assessment and credentialing system. We’re establishing a partnership with the Junior Chamber of Commerce International, which is in 200 countries with hundreds of thousands of members and millions of alumni to build a competency-based system with them. We have a number of partners in Sri Lanka, in Vietnam, Maldives, Pakistan and other Asian countries where we’re working with local institutions like the National Institute of Business in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Telecom University, etc. Vietnam National University to develop partnerships for online, in-person training in our foundation of SS course. We have partnerships with various other companies all around building out a global capacity to enhance competency-based education with a particular emphasis in SS training.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about the partnership with Marconi University in Rome?
A: We’re just a member of Marconi University and they have a certain quality control regime and so, like most accredited universities you’ll look to develop relationships and protocols that can signal to the students that you are kosher, you’re at a world class standard of excellence. That’s what our accreditation out of Britain is all about with the accreditation system for international universities and colleges. It’s a quality control agency on behalf of the British associations and institutions with which we are associated and they keep us abreast of what the emerging standards are so that we can adjust our standards and keep pace with world education.
Q: So, are you assessed every…?
A: Yes, there’s periodic, like with AISEC our creditors is every 5 years. So, we’re up for review this September. So that’s true of any membership organisation you go through periodic re-assessment and re-accreditation.
Q: Which countries/industries are working with UBI?
A: We’re working with international institutions, other universities, corporations, quite literally worldwide.
Q: What about in Europe? There’s ITI, AISEC and?
A: We are exploring a partnership with a University in Belgium and we have a partnership with the Bilden Academy in Amsterdam and various other institutions like that.
Q: What’s the difference between a BSc (Hon) and a BA’s in Psychology? Most of the Psychology degrees in universities are BSc’s – what do you think will a student gain by this particular programme at UBI as it’s a BA?
A: It depends on which country you can get a BA or a BS – it all depends on the university and the system.
Q: Can an ITP BA graduate become a psychotherapist?
A: It’s very important to distinguish between getting an academic degree and being certified professionally in a certain field. So, for example, my son is just finishing up law school and he has a JD degree, but after he passes this, he has to pass the California Bar and only then can he practice. So, you can get a BA or an MA or a PhD from UU or Harvard or any university in the world, but you can’t practice psychotherapy until you have a licence from a psychotherapy institution. So, any time you want a professional engagement, you have to get the certification, whether it’s the counselling or the psychotherapy, to practice and an academic degree may or may not completely what you need. That’s locally specific.
Q: How can an ITP student make an impact in the world?
A: If you’ve studied Integral Transpersonal Psychology you’ve developed a mastery in one of the most important domains in the world: understanding the human psyche from an Integral and Transpersonal level, which enables the person to help people transform trauma into healing. It enables you to understand the world much more holistically and to be of service to people in a psychotherapeutic and counselling situation and to help them through the shock, the anxiety and the stresses of modern life. I can’t think of a better qualification not only to help people, but to understand people in the world. I mean, I took my PhD in Jungian depth psychology and I studied very deeply ITP for probably 30-40 years and that’s what gave me the capacity to found UU. Had I not had Integral Transpersonal training, UU would not be here. So, I would say ITP training is just good training for your own life and for anyone who wants to help others.
Q: So, their role in society would mainly be in the helping relationship and then making the world better…?
A: Look at the medical profession: modern medicine actually doesn’t cure people, it just manages chronic pain, for the most part, because all the do is administer pills. You know, better living through chemistry. The reality is that we’re very complex human beings: We’re the psycho, neuro, immune, endocrine system. We’re all one system: we’re emotions, and our body, brains and our immune system and our neurological system, our heart, our gut, our mind, all are one system. You have conventional medicine only looks at the chemistry. They don’t look at your family background! You have training in ITP, you’re learning how to view the human being holistically and I can’t think of a better way to navigate one’s own life or to be at service to another than to have an ITP background and that’s one reason why we’ve put so much time and energy into the partnership with ITI because from a content substance level we believe it’s one of the most important domains of learning.
Q: Are there any specific facilities to help people find a career after the program?
A: Not at UU, but that’s part of the partnership that we’re establishing with ITI and other schools that as our graduates come through the program, we want to assist them in identifying areas in which they want to be of service and potential situations in which they can actually find jobs. And UU is by the way building a whole Career Placement System. So, you know, you come into the university, we help you develop learning pathways and then we do whatever we can to point you in the right direction so that you can apply what you’ve learnt into the world and in a way that can sustain a standard of living.
Q: How does then UBI Certs/Skills come into play with all of this? Is it something that a student can benefit from? Or is it separate?
A: The major mega-trend in education today is the shift from memorising information to get a degree, which is the standard educational model worldwide, to demonstrating competencies that show an employer what you can actually do. Just because you have a BA degree doesn’t mean you can actually read and write and most of the global corporations understand that. They want to know what you can actually do, and who you actually are. They want to know whether you can demonstrate soft skills for example. So, competency-based education is the biggest mega-trend in education today. The US department of Education just announced last month that they’re going to reform the US educational accreditation system to orient it toward competency-based education. So, our UBI Certs are the gold standard for what competency-based learning and assessment and credentialing linked to global standards should look like. So, as we build out our ITP program, it’s going to be a competency-based system, the advantage of that is that as you demonstrate competencies you get little badges and you can upload those badges onto your Social Media or into you professional portfolio so when you go to an employer you can tell them about your competencies .That’s what UU is building and we’ve also established a global accreditation council for competency-based education. We’re going to set the new gold standard for education basing it on competencies, not memorising information just to take a test. A whole different way of understanding learning as we know it. Now the UBI Skills are certain kinds of competencies and our database we’ve got 50 thousand competencies across 330 industries and over 3000 professions. What the studies that have been conducted over the last 10-15 years have identifies, about 7 or 8 core SS that we’ve already talked about. So, of all the competencies out there, UU focuses on about half a dozen, 7-8 SS, that everybody on the planet, no matter who you are or where you are or what you’re doing, needs to master in order to navigate and increasingly hyper-complex reality successfully.
Q: Where do you get your students from mainly?
A: They come from all over the world, we just enrolled 25 students from Africa, about 5 countries all over Africa. We have students in Sri Lanka from our partners with the National Institute of Business and Sri Lanka Telecom University. We’re just finalising an agreement with Vietnam National University and AISEC. So, we get students both from our B2C channels and B2B channels and we’re focusing as we move forward, like we’re going to be building students through our partnership with ITI.
Q: How do you get the students from a university? Isn’t there a conflict of interest?
A: No, we partner with them to produce the Foundation in SS Course. So, the students at Vietnam National University, in a VNU Classroom take our online course in SS inside the VNU university system and because VNU knows that SS are important, but they don’t have any course in SS. So, we provide the course. Their teachers teach he course and then we split the revenue.