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  • Writer's pictureRobin Van Gansbeke

Reshaping education at Avans University amidst societal transformations

Updated: Jan 30

In short

In an era marked by societal changes, education stands at a crossroads, compelled to evolve in sync with rapidly shifting skills and capabilities. The demand for adaptable skill sets has surged, highlighting the imperative for lifelong learning to remain relevant in an ever-changing landscape. As the boundaries blur between academia and the working field, educational institutions play a pivotal role in preparing the next-generation workforce aligned with real-world needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst, amplifying these challenges and intensifying the complexities of engaging with a new generation of students. Avans University of Applied Sciences, a beacon of higher education in the Netherlands, found itself navigating these turbulent tides. Our collaboration with Avans stemmed from their proactive approach in recognizing the pivotal impact of this crisis on their ongoing digital transformation plans. The goal was twofold: to gauge the pandemic's influence on their existing strategies and to craft a robust vision for the future of education—one that not only acknowledges but embraces the digital and societal disruptions reshaping our world.

A robust vision for the future of education and a reshaped (digital) transformation strategy to navigate and embrace the societal changes.

About Avans

Avans University of Applied Sciences stands tall as a Dutch high ranked university for professional degrees. With campuses spread across three vibrant cities—Breda, 's-Hertogenbosch, and Tilburg—Avans hosts over 30,000 students across 40 diverse courses offered through 18 institutes. Avans employs over 3,000 employees. Their commitment to student-centric education and a thirst for innovation positioned them as frontrunners in adopting digital educational solutions.


The onset of the COVID-19 crisis shook the very foundations of ongoing digital transformation initiatives at Avans University. The institution realized the imperative to not just adapt but to reimagine education amidst the pandemic's sweeping societal impacts. The challenge was to assimilate these unforeseen changes into their existing digital transformation strategy, necessitating a fresh perspective to align with the evolving needs and patterns in education.

“Scopernia's transformation framework has helped us to look far into the future and then translate that into a transformation approach for today". René Theunis, Director at Avans University of Applied Sciences

Our Approach

Avans turned to Scopernia, seeking a comprehensive roadmap that would transcend immediate crises and envision a future where digital and societal transformations shape the educational landscape. We conducted a market analysis to map out impactful trends that are already happening today and that could become mainstream in the upcoming years. Being in the middle of the Covid pandemic, the impact on how the crisis accelerated new needs and patterns, played a huge role in the storyline. The newly created vision had to offer an answer on how to deal with these new needs and patterns as an educational institute.

During a fire-starter webinar, which we organised for the entire organisation, we presented the most important trends and discussed the impact during several Q&A sessions. This was a first step in onboarding the broad organisation and delivering them more insights in the changing education environment. The workshops were organised in a smaller group, but we ensured that all departments and stakeholders were adequately represented in this workgroup. This way we had all of the needed perspectives to discuss central topics like (functions and formats of education, the location of education, the roles of the lecturer, the value proposition, new disruptors…)

It was extremely important for Avans to involve as many employees and students as possible, so they could create buy-in from the very beginning. Avans did not just want to co-create their new transformation strategy with us, but wanted to co-create it with their entire community. To accomplish this, we occupied the Chassée theatre in Breda for an interactive workshop with over 70 people. Divided in smaller groups, there was opportunity to brainstorm on several predefined key questions for the strategy. At the end of the day, the different groups presented their thoughts to the whole group. Every idea or insight was afterwards brought up in the workgroup to further debate on how to implement this in the strategy.

Intermediary sessions with the board of Directors were organised to keep them up to date with the project, as well as to include their feedback into the process. We were able to include a wide variety of Avans stakeholders into the writing process.

We occupied the Chassée theatre in Breda for an interactive workshop with over 70 people to co-create the building blocks of the Avans strategy with their entire community

The Results

The outcome of our collaboration was a comprehensive vision for the future of education at Avans University, shared by all stakeholders. This vision encompassed a wide array of crucial themes, spanning from innovative hybrid and blended learning models to fostering community engagement. It also addressed the profound impact of significant technological advancements and the emergence of international universities in the local educational landscape.

One of the key focuses was redefining the role and essential skills of educators in an evolving educational landscape. This future-oriented vision aimed to distinctly position Avans University in this dynamic environment, ensuring its continued relevance and resilience.

Interested in understanding what Scopernia can do for your organisation? Contact us!

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