What does higher-ed look like in 2023?

College could be a very different place when freshmen step foot on university campuses in the fall of 2023. For starters, many students will find that step to be entirely virtual.

college-student-virtualA seemingly alarmist prediction from Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen gaining traction among some educators states that more than half of universities will be in bankruptcy within 15 years.

Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, recently made a similar prediction, but provided a slightly more optimistic number of 25 percent.

Either way, this would mean that the high school senior class of 2023 will have far fewer options when it comes to picking a school. But that doesn’t mean they’ll have fewer choices in obtaining an education.

Far from it, said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

“I absolutely think a number of universities could go bankrupt or merge,” Schroeder said. “I think we’re going to see a big shakeup. But choices for students will actually expand.”

Students in 2023 will “pursue a mix of options,” he said.

The average student, an admittedly fluid term that will be even harder to define a decade from now, will likely take some courses on a traditional campus, but also an equal mix of online courses, flipped or blended courses, and massive open online courses (MOOCs).

These courses will come from a combination of four-year universities, community colleges, and for-profit companies like Coursera and Straighter Line.

“We’re going to see fewer and fewer classes that are fully on campus,” Schroeder said.

(Next page: How the divider between K-12 and college will begin to crumble over the next decade)

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