The Future of Higher Education
Through its history, higher education has evolved very little, but has thrived on relatively small changes. Today, a number of innovations are forcing higher education administrators to accept the fact that post-secondary education is on the precipice of a major transformation, and it’s becoming increasingly important to think about what the industry might look like in 10 years, 50 years and beyond.
During this month’s Special Feature, get insights from a wide range of higher education stakeholders into the future of higher education. Read, comment and learn about what the future has in store for this industry!
The Changing Higher Education Industry
Technology’s impact on higher education, the industry’s move to meet the needs of adult learners and the challenges created by declining budgets are the three biggest changes in higher education in modern times.
Over the past 500 years, most of the changes in higher education have been geared toward increasing access, ensuring program relevance and improving campus life.
The Evolving Relationship Between Colleges and Universities
While community colleges and universities serve different populations and have different missions, it will become critical for them to work collaboratively if they want to continue to succeed in 10 years’ time.
In a decade’s time, universities are set to become more specialized in the types of students they serve. Accepting transfer students may be one of the major changes universities experience over the next 10 years.
In 50 years’ time, supporting the workforce will continue to be the core mission of community colleges; however, the subject matter and the approach to teaching and learning will change.
The year is 2064, and the higher education industry is vastly different from what it was in 2013.
Differentiating Institutions in 10 Years’ Time
It is critical for the leadership of state institutions to embrace innovation and become leaders in order to be successful in 10 years’ time.
In 10 years’ time, institutions will fall into one of four different categories, regardless of their funding model. Depending on which category an institution falls into, its approach to the market will have to change drastically.
Land-grant universities have the capacity to ingrain themselves deeper into everyday activities and vital industries across the United States in 10 years’ time by making use of new technologies and networks as they emerge.
In 10 years’ time, for-profit institutions will be known for customer service, strong ties to the workforce and models that provide credit for prior learning — making higher education more relevant and affordable for prospective students.
By capitalizing on emerging Massive Open Online Course technology, land-grants can continue to meet their mission in a more open and accessible way than ever before.
Differentiating Institutions in 50 Years’ Time
Looking to the future, state higher education institutions will be more focused on developing low-cost, workforce-focused programming and providing students with a wide range of directions in which to take their post-secondary learning.
It will be critical for for-profit institutions to become more community-minded in 50 years’ time in order to thrive in the post-secondary education marketplace.
Land-grant universities could go one of two directions in 50 years’ time, depending on the level of state support dedicated to buttressing their mission.
The Future Relationship Between Different Campus Units
Fifty years from now, higher education institutions will be more focused on serving adult members of the workforce than on preparing youth to enter the workforce, as lifelong learning will have become the norm.
Looking into the future, higher education institutions’ efforts to serve nontraditional students should be recognized and supported by governing bodies, rather than punished.
As higher education institutions evolve over the next half-century, continuing education units should gain more autonomy as degree-granting units on campus, allowing the institution to capitalize on the particular elements that help these units to succeed.
Main campus units and extension/satellite units will become increasingly linked as their various services and activities are consolidated to create a more efficient and streamlined experience for students.
The Future Role of Government in Higher Education
Higher education institutions have a critical role to play in developing the future workforce and in allowing a province or state to capitalize on its natural resources. Funding is often used as an incentive for institutions to pursue this type of development.
As state governments begin to disinvest from their public higher education systems, it might fall to the federal government to step in and provide the necessary funding, in exchange for programming that suits the national good rather than a specific state’s needs.
The Role of the Instructor in 10 Years
By 2023, the roles played by higher education faculty will be completely different than they are today. Competency will be a critical outcome for most programs, and instructors will have a greater responsibility to ensure they are effective teachers.
In 10 years’ time, the faculty roles we see today will be all but obsolete, replaced by educators who fit into newly defined roles such as the “Celebrity Free Agent” or “The Course Hacker”.
As flipped classrooms become more prevalent in the next 10 years, the role of the instructor will transform into one of a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage.”
In 10 years’ time, instructors who cannot learn to move beyond simply providing information to students will be replaced by technology, as the entire higher education landscape shifts towards a focus on competency and lifelong learning.
In 10 years’ time, the traditional academic setting will still remain, with educators who will continue to serve that setting. However, the online learning market will grow exponentially, breeding a new generation of instructors to serve those students.
The Role of the Student in 10 Years
In this video, Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, a not-for-profit online education provider, shares his thoughts on what the educational landscape will look like in 50 years. By 2060, Khan predicts three major shifts in education: a change to the classroom model, a change to the credential model and a change in the role of the instructor.
It is undeniable that campuses will continue to exist as centers of learning in 10 years’ time, but students will be more self-directed in their education than ever before.
In 10 years’ time, adult students will be more accepted on postsecondary campuses and will have a greater role in shaping and participating in institutional culture and campus life.
While students are often simply recipients of information in postsecondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes, videoconferencing and other technologies are starting to allow them to be more participatory and communicative in their learning.
The Future Viability of International Branch Campuses
International branch campuses face many of the same challenges and barriers as continuing education units; both are needed for their innovation and business-minded nature to help the main institution remain relevant and effective in the future.
Successful international branch campuses weave themselves into the fabric of their host countries to become integral parts of the local business community, while maintaining the traditions and values of the home campus.
Though the online learning market is sure to be completely different in 10 years’ time, it is unlikely that the viability of international branch campuses will be seriously affected, as they offer a unique product to a specific group of students.
The Future of Higher Education Marketing
Institutions able to identify their ideal market and develop relevant direct marketing products and online content will be the successful marketers of the future.
Looking ahead, it is critical for higher education institutions’ marketing units to know which communications and promotions tasks would be better to outsource to marketing solutions providers.
The Evolving Role of Brand in Higher Education Marketing
Delivery of and purchasing practices in higher education will change, as will business models, and institutions must adjust the meaning behind their brand to adapt to the changing marketplace.
While it is critical for continuing and professional education units to stay true to their university’s brand, they must also work to brand themselves as independent units, and to differentiate themselves from other institutions.
It is critical for continuing education units to protect and preserve the brand identity of their university.
How Will the Number of Institutions Change in 50 Years?
As institutions begin to collaborate on programming in 50 years’ time, it is likely their programming will become more specialized. Institutions that do not adapt to this change may cease to exist.
While the number of traditional institutions is going to plummet in 50 years’ time, niche institutions will spring up to take their place, increasing dramatically the number of colleges and universities in the higher education marketplace.
In order for institutions to thrive in 50 years time, they will have to meet the specific needs of their communities and ensure that teaching is an institutional priority.
What Does the Future Hold for Edupreneurialism?
As higher education institutions become closer with edupreneurs, it’s going to become critical for colleges and universities to determine what their main value proposition is, and what tasks and services they can afford to outsource.
The traditionally slower-moving higher education industry has come face-to-face with the fast-paced business world, and the mixing of the two will develop a far more integrated and sophisticated relationship in 10 years’ time.
The future looks bright for higher education when it comes to the possibilities of technology, but it’s critical that individuals at all levels of higher education begin thinking futuristically about how these technologies can be deployed. Otherwise, they risk being controlled by, rather than in control of, the changes.
While there have been a number of innovations in higher education over the past few years, we are likely to see true innovations in different areas than what may have been expected.
The idea of taking elite higher education programming online is not new, and Massive Open Online Courses will likely be adopted as common practice by elite institutions in 10 years time.
Higher Education Funding in the Future
While government funding is steadily decreasing, and may even drop to zero, public universities will still carry the critical mission of delivering high-quality, low-cost education to their constituents.
In 10 years’ time, higher education will be funded more by individuals and employers, and less by government revenue streams. This will force higher education institutions to transform themselves to meet consumer demands such as competency and workforce development than more theoretical goals as they do today.
Just as institutions have evolved in the past to suit the market’s demands, colleges and universities will continue to adapt themselves to meet societal needs. It will be critical for many institutions to change their funding models to be able to continue offering required services.
Exploring Online Distance Education in 10 Years
While advances in technology certainly make way for a number of exciting opportunities, it is also important to know how much data is being put out into the open and critical to consider how that data is being protected.
As technology moves forward, the higher education experience – both face to face and online – will transform dramatically.
Identity verification is a major hurdle institutions must overcome as online learning and e-crimes such as identity theft continue to grow over the next decade.
In 10 years’ time, online teaching and learning is likely to be far more student-centered and personalized for learners than it is today.
Colleges and universities can improve across the board in 10 years’ time by taking advantage of cloud technologies that are emerging on the market today.
The Future of Credits and Credentials
It will be critical for colleges and universities to adapt their credentialing models to the competency-based approach in order to remain relevant to the needs of students and the workforce.
The degree may well be in existence in 10 years, but it will look vastly different from its current form.
The traditional, seat time-based higher education degree does not suit today’s higher education marketplace or students. As higher education evolves, so too must its degrees, toward a focus on competency and skill mastery.
As a new crop of students enrolls in higher education, American institutions will have to adapt their education delivery and credentialing systems to respond to student-consumer demands.
Technology’s Impact on Teaching and Learning in 10 Years
In 10 years’ time, technology’s greatest impact on higher education will be the opening of accessibility and the movement toward more blended classrooms, making classroom time more efficient and focused on personalized learning.
Increased communication capacity between instructors and students is going to make the postsecondary classroom an all-encompassing, social space in 10 years’ time.
Looking 10 years into the future, the most effective teaching tool in higher education will still be the skills that make a professor or an instructor a good teacher.
Technology’s Impact on Higher Education Management (Part 1)
In order for disruptive technologies to be integrated to their fullest capacity into higher education institutions, postsecondary leaders will have to adjust their institutions and their management style to accommodate massive changes.
Improvements to data collection and analysis technologies will completely transform the higher education industry by 2063.
Over the next 50 years, higher education institutions will shift massively toward serving the lifelong learner rather than the traditional 18 to 22-year-old student. This shift will be accompanied by advances in technology that facilitate a more lifelong approach to higher education.
Technology’s Impact on Higher Education Management (Part 2)
In the future, administrators will utilize readily-available learning analytics to reshape and transform the way their institutions operate.
As educational delivery and credential display systems change with the times, higher education institutions will have to adapt their on-campus technologies and systems to keep pace with the transformations.
Technology is revolutionizing teaching and learning in higher education, and in 10 years’ time, colleges and universities will have transformed themselves to accommodate this change.
Institutions are already collecting large amounts of data; the big change in 50 years will be that colleges and universities will be able to use that data to make informed decisions about the direction of their institution.
In 10 years’ time, it’s likely that better use of available data will be a major influence on the way higher education institutions operate, and better communication between different departments and internal organizations will help reduce and remove institutional silos.
As technology becomes better integrated into the management of higher education institutions, services for students will become more personalized and abundant while costs will go down.