An Avalanche of Change is Coming in Higher Ed

Pearson’s senior academic team said an avalanche is headed for higher education.  Chief Education Advisor Sir Michael Barber and his colleagues Katelyn Donnelly and Saad Rizvi recently released a report encouraging “all players in the system to act boldly.”
An Avalanche is Coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead outlines three challenges:

  1. How can universities and new providers ensure education for employability?
  2. How can the link between cost and quality be broken? At present, the global rankings of universities in effect equate inputs with output, but now outstanding quality without high fixed costs is both plausible and desirable. A new university ranking is required.
  3. How does the entire learning ecosystem need to change to support alternative providers and the future of work?
To individual consumers, the report urge everyone “to seize the opportunity to learn and re-learn throughout their lives.”
The authors urge university leaders “to take control of their own destiny and seize the opportunities open to them through technology…to provide broader, deeper and more exciting education.”  The reports title is suggestive of the alternative.
“Finally, governments need to rethink their regulatory regimes for an era when university systems are global rather than national and a student’s education can take multiple paths.”
“The potential unbundling is a certainly a threat, but those who rebundle well will find they have reinvented higher education for the 21st century,” said Larry Summers in his forward.
The authors hope the report will encourage universities to “consider their options creatively.”
For more, see Ministers Learn About Improvement at Scale, a post on a session the Michael Barber and I conducted at the World Education Forum in London in February.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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