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Education Expert Roundups Predictions

What’s The Future Of Universities?

For more than a century, the way universities were run didn’t change all that much. Sure, the technology used advanced, but the basic model of a person giving speeches in a big room then grading tests on their speeches stuck around.

However, over the past few years, MOOC or massive open online courses have been causing major disruptions in higher education. The Harvard Business Review’s Clayton Christensen predicted a few years ago, “Fifteen years from now more than half of the universities [in America] will be in bankruptcy.” Now, while the situation probably isn’t that dire, some significant changes are coming.

For more on that, we asked a group of industry experts…

What’s The Future Of Universities?

Here’s what they had to say…

Arthur Levine, President of Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation & President Emeritus of Teachers College Columbia University

“Universities can be expected to shift away from the fixed time and processes of the industrial era toward the fixed outcomes favored by information economies. They will focus on what students learn rather than what they have been taught. Education will become student-centered rather than teacher-centered.

It will be rooted in learning outcomes—the skills and knowledge that students are required to master to earn a credential (generally referred to today as competencies, standards, and outcomes). The process for achieving mastery and the amount of time necessary to do so will vary from student to student and from competency to competency for each student. In this system, the time and process of learning will become variable and the outcomes will be fixed.

This shift will render the current time-based academic accounting system—consisting of credit hours, Carnegie units, and seat time—anachronistic. It will be necessary for the education system to develop shared or common definitions of outcomes or competencies.”


David D. Timony, Assistant Professor & Chair, Education Department at Delaware Valley University

“Agile institutions, responsive to the needs of a greater diversity of students and the industries who seek them, will be viable over the next decade. Where exclusivity once reigned, it is now the banner of inclusivity that will have institutions surviving the winnowing process. Astute parents and students, setting a high bar for checks and balances, are seeking programs committed to affordable on-time graduation. Schools are making their bones developing students into industry or grad-school prepared individuals.

In my work with incoming students, I encourage them to find the best fit for their needs and interests. It is no benefit to them or to my program if they realize after a semester or more that they wanted a different type of school. I’m going to do anything that I can to help students consider the factors that contribute to success. A good fit is at the core of that decision.”


Traci Kirtley, Chief Program Officer at College Possible

“In the next decade, university campuses will need to look more like the American society they seek to educate and will place equal emphasis on theory and practice, or will become increasingly irrelevant. Colleges that thrive will include more opportunities to combine liberal arts cores with skilled trade training, capitalizing on the success of their engineering schools, for example.

As national demographics change, universities will have to become places that recruit, serve, and graduate the increasing number of non-traditional college goers: students of color and those from low income backgrounds. Currently, colleges are not serving this population:

Nationally between 2007 and 2015, the higher education attainment gap between white non-Hispanic adults and Latinos grew by 2.2 percentage points, and the gap for African Americans widened by 0.4 points. Those universities who can adapt their policies and practices to serve an increasingly diverse population will thrive; those who can’t will not.”


Tom Antion, Founder of The Internet Marketing Training Center of Virginia

“According to an article by educator Chase Mielke, How Our National Obsession with College Is Destroying Education, Mielke says, We are so fixated on just getting kids to college, we don’t often ask why and for what purpose.

Mielke couldn’t be more right. You can count by the tens of thousands young adults racking up massive debt for themselves and their parents. Some overcome their disillusionment and actually graduate. Then, if they’re lucky, they can work at Starbucks.

The irony here according to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is that, Employers can’t find the skilled workers they need even though job openings are at near record highs. She coined the term New Collar worker.

I predict professional schools will be OK and vocational schools will grow. People will finally wise up and shun bloated institutions that increase tuitions to maintain the bloat while failing to give students marketable skills.”


Eric Greenberg, Founder of Greenberg Educational Group

“Eric sees universities becoming even more specialized to make students more career ready sooner. He says that today’s Gen Z incoming college students are leading the path toward skill-based education more than Millennials or previous generations, and that this movement will be ushering in vocational school models. Gen Z are already selecting colleges that are best in a major even ahead of a college that’s higher ranked.”


Jeffrey Moss, Founder & CEO of Parker Dewey

“Universities will integrate short-term, professional experiences into their programs. These will not replace traditional internships, co-ops, and existing on-campus consulting engagements, but will rather complement them. Using the data from these experiences, universities will refine curriculum and provide better individualized support of students.

Furthermore, these experiences will be used to provide authentic mentoring opportunities between students and alumni. To be clear, this does not suggest that universities will turn into vocational, job-training programs, but rather they will more effectively help students understand how their education aligns to various career paths, something true across liberal arts, business, technology, and all other fields of study.”


Crystal Olivarria, Founder & CEO of Career Conversationalist

“The future for universities is challenging as more faculty become frustrated that students’ attention spans keep shortening. Shorten attention spans and the inability to stay focused will not only result in students struggling to complete college programs but will also make it difficult for them to reach high levels of success in their career.

Students who manage to graduate but do not reach high levels of success in their career will be less likely to be in a position to give back abundantly as alumni.

Therefore universities have short and long term challenges as it relates to students inability to stay focused. The best ways universities can help students stay focused is to create curriculum that requires a lot engagement and provide a supportive academic environment that fosters a growth mindset.”   

About the author

Nick Hastreiter

I write about the future of business. I approach this by interviewing founders, CEO's, and other game changers to share their vision for the future of their industry.

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  • I like very much what Tom Anton said, “Obsession with College Is Destroying Education”. This is so true in my industry “Fashion Design and Manufacturing”. Schools and Colleges are teaching sensational creativity, and most graduates no longer know how to take innovative design and make them pattern/producible marketable to consumers. I have watched the industry change over 65 years. There is not just crazy creativity in styles, there is also creativity in new kinds of pattern engineering systems and creativity in new manufacturing systems that no CAD or Robots can help with. Thank you for listening.