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
We're into the 2030s and degrees are being designed by and for businesses...
Universities would often work with professional bodies for certain subjects, but there were many reservations about working with commercial companies.
Most degree programmes were designed and developed within the university. So it was no real surprised that the first movement towards the co-designed university degree came from the business sector and universities had to play catch-up.
Though some original commercial universities that were created, by fast food companies or property magnates, were the butt of many a joke on social media. Some major global companies wanted to have more say in what and how their future employees would be taught and how they learnt.
Degree apprenticeships had showed what could be possible with employees working while studying, but the content of those courses were still not aligned with the needs of employers and large global companies.
Companies were still concerned that prospective students still wanted to graduate from a “proper” university and not what looked like a toytown or fake establishment. In the first instance large companies collaborated with major universities with an established brand.
These commercial degrees were co-designed by the company and the university and offered initially to the company employees to be completed either as degree apprenticeships or part time degrees over a number of years. They were popular with employees, but also prospective employees. Companies offering degrees as part of their CPD were finding that the number of candidates applying for each position was increasing.
After a while, the universities realised that this format could appeal to prospective students who were looking for more than just a degree, but wanted a pathway into employment. Smaller companies who were part of the supply chain for the larger company, or even competitors were more than willing to employ these codesigned graduates straight into jobs. The universities with the support and co-operation of their commercial partners started to offer the same degree programmes as part of their student offer.
Many other larger companies, finding their recruitment challenging or in some cases drying up, started to participate and collaborate with universities across the country. These courses became very popular with students, unfortunately initially to the detriment of non-commercial courses.
Not just for the commercial sector
There were concerns expressed by figures from the arts, as well as the traditional arts colleges that they were starting to lose out. However, after piloting the approach with art degrees, it was clear that the same principles of co-design could be applied to all types of degree. Once the codesign model was embedded into most universities, non-commercial and charitable organisations started to work with universities on codesigned degree programmes.
Theatre groups for example started working more closely with higher education organisations to collaborate and create degree programmes that would enable graduates of those degrees to gain employment in the theatre world. Charitable foundations started to work with universities to ensure that they would provide degree programmes that would attract students who wanted to work in humanitarian and other non-commercial areas.
The concept of a university-designed degree programme became something of an oddity.
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.