This vision for the future of HE has been created for the learning and teaching reimagined initiative. It's not what we think the future of higher education will - or even should - look like, but just one possible scenario to inspire (possibly scare) and provoke discussion.
This content represents an imagined scenario and is set in the future
It's 2030 at the University of the North...
The last decade has been dramatic for the University of the North. The university started the 2020s in a difficult situation thanks to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 but in 2030, it is celebrating a meteoric rise up the university league tables.
What is the secret to their success? The university’s vice-chancellor believes that there are three reasons: a new approach to course design, well trained staff and a high-quality student experience.
Course delivery three ways
One of the first, and most important changes the university made in the early 2020s was to revamp their courses to ensure that every course at the university can be studied in one of three ways:
- Students learn via the web
- Popular with international students as its reasonably-priced but carries the full prestige of a face-to-face course
- Popularity of the online courses has led to a big jump in student numbers
Earn while you learn
- A three-year course
- Student lives on campus and splits their time between paid work experience and studying
- The work placements are organised by the university and count towards final grade
- A faster version of the traditional university degree
- The student attends the university and the course is completed within an intensive 18 months
- This option is more expensive than the others and attracts lower numbers of students
The course content and structure are the same across the three routes, and most learning is done online, even for the accelerated face-to-face students.
Support and contact time
Contact time and support is a high priority for all types of study and the university has worked closely with teaching staff to release as much time as possible for one-to-one and small group contact time.
In addition, the university augments teacher contact time by enabling peer-to-peer support between students and using AI applications such as academic writing coaches to increase the feedback students get.
Investing in staff digital skills
Delivering courses this way is dependent on two factors that the University of the North has worked hard to get right.
The first is staff being highly proficient with technology and with the university’s approach to course design and course delivery. The university has created a curriculum for all staff, to ensure they can deliver the student experience the university promises. This course consists of a series of micro-credentials that update annually which all staff are required to complete.
The second factor is ensuring that every student, no matter the study route, has a rewarding experience. There is no easy fix for this and the university has spent a lot of time doing the unglamorous but essential work to ensure that the campus, technology, data, teaching, assessments and processes all fit together to create a rewarding experience.
This starts before students join and continues after they leave, which is one of the reasons so many alumni are taking short lifelong learning courses at the university after they leave.
Student and alumni community
Where the University of the North really stands out is their focus on community for students past and present. A newly-created department focuses entirely on sustaining a sense of community among students and staff. The team ensures that all students, even those studying online, have a flourishing network of peers, mentors and potential employers.
While the team makes good use of technology, a lot of their time is spent organising and supporting physical events. All online courses include the option for a week on campus per semester to engage in practical skills development, face-to-face activities which are a mix of educational, wellbeing, social and employability.
Send us your visions
This is one of a number of visions of the future of HE, created as part of our learning and teaching reimagined programme.
We’d love to hear your visions for how learning and teaching in higher education will change over the next few years.
- 1 7 Things You Should Know About the HyFlex Course Model, Educause - https://library.educause.edu/resources/2020/7/7-things-you-should-know-a...
- 2 Southern New Hampshire University to offer $10K tuition for on-campus model, Boston Business Journal - https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2020/04/22/southern-new-hampshir...