A few thoughts on how the future may look like in HE. I have no crystal ball, I just read a bit. After my first post, here is the second one:
1. The end of the single University degree, single city studies and single discipline focus: We have already seen signs with MOOCs, Minerva, joint degrees, completing them in different cities and flexibility that allows further interaction between social sciences and engineering or Computer sciences for example. I am pretty sure this is what the new era will be: multiple Colleges (private, public, for profit, not for profit) will offer joint degrees, capitalizing their campus present around the world, accompanied with a highly interactive online platform. In addition, we will see much for integration between very different disciplines. It is not the Universities that will ask that; the youth and the market has requested it already.
2. Shared Services models: applied by business for ages now and by some HEI (Higher Education Institutions) in the UK (as far as I know, but feel free to direct me to other places, too). Why should 5 colleges that are based in the same city have 5 different contracts with their cleaning service or their design office? They have similar needs and a very easy cost allocation key can be found to share the costs, with better rates and terms. The same can be for technology vendors, legal services, security, as well as other back-office areas that are on a need-demand model.
3. Life long learning: this is nothing new, but the following is: the Swiss Army is one of the best trained force in the world. All men go through their basic training and then for a number of years they return to get re-trained on the positions they had. This allows them to be ready when needed, continue their careers normally and be able to find themselves in a different environment and have a break from every day work. They also call it “green holiday”, as ok, to be honest, the conditions they are provided with during their service are not exactly battle-like:) So, the fact is that learning does not end with University when we are 25 or 30. The truth is that if you want to advance in your career, along your actual everyday work you need to put some time aside to read, study and challenge yourself with some new theories or practices. There are part-time degrees, executive education programs, distance learning options, however all of them are either too expensive or they have a limited life-spam. My view is that there is a new need for how we should look into that: 2-week training for all men and women every year on a topic of their professional interest, subsidized by them, their employers and potentially the government.
4. The rise of more “useless” education: I wrote a bit about it in my previous post “The use of useless education”.
Which education is useful and which not is a very good question. It depends on who it concerns, what it concerns and which stakeholder makes or answers the question. I refer to liberal arts as “useless” education, not because I believe it of course, but due to the fact that many people refer to it like that, especially ones that come from business, engineering, IT i.e. more “applied” disciplines. The crisis we have been experiencing over the past 6 years has pushed many of us to rethink the way that they lead their lives, their careers and the things they spend their time on. Stories of people who skipped College or succeeded despite the fact that they did not too well at School or studied something totally different and/or “useless” like philosophy, history, geography, literature etc has shaken the paradigms we have in our minds about the prerequisites of success. And this is a good thing. I believe there is more to come on this: youth will study whatever they want, whatever they aspire to be and they will create the career opportunities for them, where nothing existed beforehand. We will see an increase in people wanting to study and go back to these professions or people that follow a more “applied”/practical path to be willing to integrate more of liberal arts learning in their every day lives/studies.
What do you think?