Future of the University

In this post I would like to present some my ideas about what should change in higher education. In my opinion, colleges and universities should pay much more attention to lifelong learning.


By definition, lifelong learning is the constant, ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated acquisition of knowledge and skills throughout a lifetime for either personal or professional reasons. This term recognizes that learning is not confined only to the classroom but takes place throughout life.

Lifelong learning can solve the continuing mismatch between education and the labor market. Therefore, in my opinion, universities should start to offer more customized and problem-solving education and, consequently, turn into the engaged university.

To support my opinion, I can provide the argument that lifelong learning is beneficial for both individuals and traditional colleges and universities. Learners can obtain greater productivity, better positions in the job market, and, as a result, higher income. On the other hand, having additional students means additional income for universities. And tuition and fee rates of lifelong learners should be higher comparing with rates of traditional learners. In addition, the increase of lifelong learning would positively impact the whole society because universities would offer more problem-solving education based on the real needs of the particular communities.

4 Replies to “Future of the University”

  1. Hi Azat! I appreciate your post because you are considering a group of folks who aren’t well represented in academia: non-traditional students. In your lifelong approach, how do you suggest universities implement this change? I see your outcomes listed (i.e. more financial revenue for institutions) but how can we recruit this population of folks?

    1. Hi Steph,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I think there is only way to implement this: universities should provide a non-traditional schedule of classes for non-traditional students. More particularly, online and asynchronous classes. In cases when it is necessary to have in-person classes (doing something at labs, etc.), it is possible to offer evening in-person classes.

  2. Hi Azat,

    Thanks for your post. I agree that this would be a great way to reach an audience or group of students that are currently not being reached. I do agree that lifelong learning is important and that we should be thinking about this, but it is hard to sell to the broader public that they should essentially stay in school their entire lives. This could mean continuing to be in debt for student loans throughout the course of the entire life, which is certainly not enticing to many people as paying off the student loans is something most people look forward to. How do you think this problem could be solved? My thought is maybe the employers could pay for these courses as it would help their employees stay at the top of their game. We would have to guarantee some kind of payoff for the employer in order to incentivize them to pay for the classes. It’s a good thought that this would increase income for the university, and hopefully the cost of some of these classes would help offset the cost of tuition for all students. I doubt that would be the case, but it’s a nice thought.
    Best,
    Lara

    1. Hi Lara,
      Thanks for your comment and for pointing out a very important problem.
      In my opinion, lifelong learning doesn’t mean staying in the school forever, but it means learning something that is mostly useful for professional reasons. So, I implicitly assume that lifelong learners can afford this education because they work and, moreover, they expect that their lifelong learning can help them improve their status at the labor market (or in other words to get higher wages). Therefore I believe that there is no huge problem with this.
      I agree with you that employers can pay for these courses. In many cases employers might have more precise information about what courses are more useful and helpful for their workers. So, motivating their employees for lifelong education courses might be very beneficial for companies. It’s a great thought, thanks for sharing it!

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