College presidents predict 4 new institutional models for higher-ed

Presidents say these new models could be the future of all colleges and universities in the next decade

model-institution-futureA new think-tank-esque collection of leading college and university presidents last year came together to discuss the trends and disruptions shaping higher education thanks to new technologies and the evolving global economy. Outside of just naming trends, they also predicted four new models of higher-ed that may exist in the next 10 years.

The brainstorming made formal can be found in a new series of papers called the Presidential Innovation Lab (PIL) White Paper Series, funded as part of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and hosted by the American Council on Education (ACE).

14 chief executive officers from a diverse group of institutions participated in two separate sessions last year (2013)—institutions such as Northeastern University, MIT, Western Governors University, etc.—with the goal of engaging in a “robust and wide-ranging conversation about the various drivers of change and potential reactions to those drivers.”

“These are neither [absolutes] nor recommendations,” explains Cathy A. Sandeen, vice president for education attainment and Innovation at ACE, and editor of the last series of papers, “Signals and Shifts in Postsecondary Landscape,” “they are offered as food for thought—the context for potential future thinking and future planning.”

According to the paper, new technologies are challenging established models of knowledge delivery and pathways to degrees, as well as current assessment and certification systems.

“This ecosystem holds the promise of providing previously unimaginable access to learning resources to a wider-than-ever global population,” noted Sandeen, “[but] at the same time, it is challenging some of the business and pedagogical models of existing institutions. In this environment, few existing institutions have the luxury of remaining completely unchanged. All of today’s colleges and universities are engaged, to one degree or another, in rethinking the assumptions, structures, and principles that have guided them so far.”

(Next page: 4 new institutional models)