This vision for the future of HE has been created by Dr Russell Crawford, director of learning and teaching at Falmouth University, 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
Welcome from 2030
Welcome to this inaugural lecture marking the opening of the Dawn French Zero-Gravity Textiles Academy – named in honour of our chancellor – the first lunar Falmouth University campus made possible through regional ties with Spaceport Cornwall and Cornwall (Earth) Council.
To understand how we come to be amongst the stars today in 2030, it is necessary to look back at the nexus of it all and the changes to global higher education resulting from the landmark 2020 turning point.
Blended learning: a unified philosophy for education
Pre-2020, higher education as a sector had the luxury of choosing their educational philosophies from a wide gamut of traditional and specialist pedagogies on a broadly level playfield, where arguments could be made for “success” using metrics now recognised as outmoded.
What emerged post-2020 was a renaissance in “blended pedagogy” as a unifying global educational philosophy under one central tenet, that necessity breeds innovation.
What quickly emerged from 2022 onwards was eruption of a diverse spectrum of personalised HEI takes on blended pedagogy that are still in use today, where universities articulate their unique visions of what blended means for them by using far fewer metrics of success, most noticeably measurable learning gains and the impact (civic, societal and intellectual) of its graduates.
As universities across planet Earth rose and fell in these fires of change, those who embraced whole institutional pedagogies leaving behind the old disciplinary mindsets won the hearts and minds of trepidatious staff, students and parents who were along for this uncertain adventure bearing no guaranteed outcomes.
Challenges behind the change
Let me be clear, the transformation happening between 2021 and 2025 was not easy and required much in the way of fundamental change to educational infrastructure as well as thinking in new ways about space (no pun intended!) At first, heated debates during these four years meant that valuable redevelopment time was lost to many and in paraphrasing a famous pop culture phenomenon from the early 2000s, “the avalanche had started, it was too late for the pebbles to vote”.
Tempered in that crucible of change, along came the 2025 unifying blended educational philosophy fostering a new breed of academic to face the future. In the last five years, practice-specialist academics backed by the global data panopticon, AILA (Artificial Intelligence Learner Analytical) emerged as data-informed specialists in blended practice, empathic feedback, innovative assessment (currently Earth-centric) and transformative social thinking in blended space (again, not a pun!)
It is sometimes hard to remember the days of post-it notes and 800-person lecture theatres in this time of AILA-driven engagement-level oversight and virtual immersive reality social space (stop it!)
More giant leaps ahead
Looking ahead, in the words of Stephen King, “sooner or later, everything old is new again.” As we now look to long lost educational practices such as narrative-based learning as performance, to refresh the digital leaps we make each year and try not to eclipse what has come before (OK, I`ll give you that one!).
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.