7/7/14 What might higher education look like a decade from now? Will it be pretty much as it is today? Or will cost pressures, debt burdens, shifting student demographics, and demands for accountability, affordability, and access produce fundamental transformations in how higher education is structured and delivered?
I am a historian, and my hindsight is far sharper than my foresight. But as a thought experiment, let me speculate.
First, a caveat. Any generalizations about the future of higher education must be qualified by the fact that post-secondary education isn’t a single entity. It consists of institutions with drastically different missions, student bodies, and sources of funding.
Some institutions may be more immune to change than others. Research universities with substantial endowments, generous alumni support, and extensive research funding may well withstand the pressures to evolve, while those institutions which are more vulnerable to the loss of students to for-profit and non-profit online providers, community colleges, and early college offerings in high school, might evolve faster.
Conversely, research universities, with their highly selective student bodies, may prove more eager to take advantage of their comparative advantages: Their well-developed research labs, rich archives, and network of connections to corporations, foundations, and art museums, and to integrate these more tightly into the undergraduate experience.
So what do I forecast?
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