Reimagining Higher Education after COVID-19


The British University in Dubai (BUiD) organised the inaugural TEDxTheBritishUniversityinDubai at the Marriot Hotel Al Jaddaf on 16 January 2021. The event explored the impact of COVID-19 on higher education and the future of universities after the pandemic. Distinguished speakers from a cross section of BUiD discussed key issues including Blockchain, inclusivity and diversity, and alternative methods of assessment.


Professor Abdullah Alshamsi, BUiD’s Vice Chancellor, welcomed the audience and said, “We are very proud to organise our inaugural TEDxTheBritishUniversityinDubai. We at BUiD believe strongly in disseminating knowledge and we share the same goals as the TED organisation of spreading worthy ideas. This event is a great opportunity for people to share thoughts and discuss ideas on COVID-19 and its impact on higher education.”


BUiD’s Registrar and Chief Administrative Officer, Hugh Martin FRSA, opened by noting that education has been hit hard by the pandemic. Within weeks of moving teaching and learning online, the talk began that the traditional university was dead. He argued that never has the purpose and mission of universities – in person and on campus – been more important. He also talked about strengthening and cementing the traditional university as the foundation of a fair, tolerant, and civil society based on the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.


Dr Tendai Charles, Director of BUiD’s Centre for Research in Digital Education (CRDE), discussed the issue of exams and how universities worldwide have struggled to host effective exams online during the pandemic. One of the paradigm shifting lessons learned during 2020 was that there are multiple alternative ways to assess students, which are arguably better (and safer) than traditional exams. While Mamta Saha, Associate Member of the CRDE, reflected on the severity of COVID-19 on higher education and its impact on the emotional well-being of students, teachers and the community. In her talk, she looked at how by being conscious of five tools within you (Mind, Body, Heart, Breath, and Truth), you can ground yourself, connect with your intuition, and be at your best, despite difficult and uncertain times.


In her talk, Professor Eman Gaad, Dean of the Faculty of Education, examined diversity and inclusivity in higher education especially in times of pandemic. She gave practical tips on moving forward based on research-based evidence and lessons learned about how the sensitive issue of inclusivity is handled.


The vital role of Blockchain technology was addressed by Dr. Maria Papadaki, Director of the Innovation and Risk Management Centre, who questioned if universities are really ready for embracing disruptive technologies.


TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives.


Watch the videos

Hugh Martin

Prof. Eman Gaad

Dr Tendai Charles 

Dr Maria Papadaki 

Mamta Saha



The British University in Dubai

Block 11, 1st and 2nd floor, Dubai International Academic City PO Box 345015, Dubai, UAE

Tel: +971 4 279 1400

Whatsapp: +971507012843

Email: [email protected]