Space, Place and the Virtual University: The Virtual University is the University Made Concrete
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AbstractThis paper is developed from a presentation to the Academia Europaea Conference `Virtual University? Educational Environments of the Future&apos;, Wenner Gren Foundation, Stockholm, 14-16 October, 1999. for knowledge creation and distribution. The university, as an institution appears to dissolve. This agenda has implications for the whole university. In terms of teaching and learning, it envisions the separation or unbundling of development of course materials (packaging), the assembly of students (recruitment), the provision of learning and the assessment of competencies. With this unbundling, the university ceases to be an end-to-end supplier of the higher education process and may undertake one or more these roles, with other organisations undertaking complementary functions. The university, then, becomes far more externally oriented, an intermediary on the global stage, acting as collaborator, client, contractor and broker of higher education services. Of course, the extent of unbundling varies for different sub-markets, being greater in postgraduate, vocational and life-long learning than in the undergraduate `rite of passage&apos; market. In terms of research, the vision is one in which research teams cross disciplinary, institutional and national boundaries. In part this arises from the growth of big science with its huge research teams and massive resource requirements, but it also builds on disciplinary traditions in all subject areas. More significantly, research increasingly involves working much more closely with users in what has been called `the new production of knowledge&apos; (Gibbons et al. 1994). The administration of the university, too, is transformed in the visions of the virtual university. At the heart is this change is the provision of comprehensive informati...