- A new report about how higher education will look in 2040 predicts a blended experience for students where they take courses in the classroom and online for customized engagements in an environment that prioritizes flexibility — and perhaps even enlists them to “subscribe” to its offerings and its support throughout their lives.
- The report from a commission established by Georgia Institute of Technology presents a future where a student’s college experience is “not marked by arbitrary entries on a calendar, but one with numerous entry and exit points where students associate with rather than enroll...," according to an interview by the Chronicle of Higher Education with Rafael L. Bras, Georgia Tech’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
- Bras said he doesn’t see a dismantling of the undergraduate experience, but rather a “hybrid” where the campus remains vibrant because students of college age still want and need that experience but will have more flexibility to access it in various ways. He added he believes K-12 teachers and students and lifelong learners will more extensively utilize the university.
Joshua Kim, director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning and senior fellow for academic transformation, learning and design at Georgetown University, wrote that the Georgia Tech report should be studied by others in higher education and receive “scholarly attention” and not just short-term media reviews. He also wrote that “its meaning should be analyzed, and this analysis should be taught to the next generation of institutional learning innovation scholars and future postsecondary leaders."
The blended approach that the commission sees relates to what education writer Jeff Selingo wrote about in his projection for colleges in his 2013 book "College (Un)bound."
One significant trend colleges face will come in the number and origin of enrollees, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which reports there will be a nearly a 5% decline nationwide by 2020 in high school graduates since 2013 and that they will more often come from minority families with less means. A survey of admissions officials released in fall 2017 showed that new-student enrollment targets were met by only 34% of institutions by May 1, down from 37% in 2016 and 40% in 2015 by that same date, according to a report by Inside Higher Ed.
Ken Gill, CEO of NCUK–The University Consortium, a group representing colleges worldwide, said institution leaders should consider more creative approaches toward giving students lifelong learning skills that are valuable long term. "Capacity imbalance would argue for increasing use of technology and blended learning, creating more joint ventures and combining institutions with specialized focus," he told Education Dive earlier this year.
The Georgia Tech commission report also considers the use of more artificial intelligence, including AI tutors pared with a humans who would then be able to provide another level of information and support when some tasks and delivery of some information is automated.