Education

York’s Partnership with IBM is About Doing Higher Education Differently

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In an economy like Canada’s, where two-thirds of new jobs require post-secondary education and 40-70 per cent of existing jobs will be disrupted by artificial intelligence and automation, universities have never been more important. York University, in Toronto, is redefining how we prepare students for success by linking our commitment to access, connectedness, excellence and impact. Our collaboration with IBM to transform student services is the latest example of our innovation in action.

Expanding access to higher education has always been central to York’s mission. We know that our province and our country cannot afford to leave talent behind. When I talk to our students, I hear every day about the sacrifices they and their families make so they can go to university.  Over 60 per cent of our students work part-time. They work hard because they and their families believe that York can unlock opportunity for them.

Delivering on that promise means we have to do things differently. To prepare students to enter a rapidly changing workforce, we’re focused on expanding experiential learning opportunities, where students connect their academic programs to real-world experience. We’re supporting student entrepreneurs and startups and connecting lifelong learning to the future skills needs of the economy.

As we prepare students to launch their careers, we need to make sure they have access to the services and support they need to excel in their studies. That is why we are so excited to partner with IBM to develop a new virtual assistant. The assistant provides students with advisory services designed to improve their university experiences by delivering both academic and personal guidance covering a wide range of topics in real-time. This is the first time that IBM AI technology has been used in this way at a Canadian university.

In the future, my hope is that we can explore how to better personalize learning in and out of the classroom.

The expectations placed on universities have never been higher or more complex. But through our partnership with IBM and our ongoing commitment to educational innovation, I am confident our graduates will have what they need to thrive in a challenging world.

President and Vice Chancellor, York University

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