The university community has undergone monumental changes over the years. These changes have ranged from structural to administrative changes. The interesting thing about these changes is that they have been gradual, albeit steady. They were almost imperceptible while they occurred, and today we almost ask ourselves, “how did we get here?”. However, we ought not to be taken aback as these changes are reflective of the changes in the larger society. We probably just have not been paying close attention. So as I reflect about the future of the university, I thought maybe we could learn a thing or two about how past and current trends in the society have impacted the University of today and use such trends to predict the University of the future. Therefore, in this blog post, I will be discussing the future of the university based on past and current trends in the society.
1. The proliferation of online courses and degrees
The rapid growth of the information technology industry means that two people living in different countries can now communicate in a matter of seconds. The university community has latched on to this technology just as everyone else in the society. Nowadays, professors have websites, blogs, and e-portfolios where they share educational resources. Many traditional lecture courses now have online options. In fact, some universities offer all their courses and degrees online. So you ask, “what does the future hold for universities?” Well, the answer to that question is as simple as asking “what does the future hold for the internet?”, “is the internet going to stop any time soon?”. Well, my guess is as good as yours. As long as the internet continues to blossom, then we can expect universities to continue to have increased online presence in the future to stay competitive. I predict the University of the future would offer almost all their degrees (including Ph.D.)online in addition to the traditional lecture format.
2. More advanced degrees
The complex nature of problems we currently face requires advanced skills. Societal problems ranging from climate change to colonizing planets may require skills beyond the baccalaureate. Moreover, the increasing rate of unemployment is not helping matters, graduates are finding it difficult to land the job of their dreams. As a result, the value of graduate education is increasing and will continue to increase. According to the NCES, “educational attainment rates among 25- to 29-year-olds increased…. the percentage with a bachelor’s or higher degree increased from 29 to 36 percent, and the percentage with a master’s or higher degree increased from 5 to 9 percent.” Going by this trend, we can make a forecast that universities would offer more advanced degrees in the future.
3. Open access will become increasingly popular
I believe that this “open” movement in academia will continue to go from strength to strength. Its benefits far outstrip its pitfalls. Also, less importance would be put on publishing in top-tier journals, academics would readily embrace getting their work out there. I also see “Journals of non-significant results” coming to fruition, yay :). In addition, I see journals becoming more university-based (i.e. university regulated), this would go a long way in reducing the copyright complications put in place by publishers. Universities and professors that engage in “open” practices will be rewarded in some ways.
While some of these claims might sound overly ambitious, I believe it is the future of the university if the current trend is anything to go by.