The University in 2040: 6 trends & an infographic.

On November 23, I had the honor of giving a talk at the NRC Live event for Education. I was scheduled immediately after Bert van der Zwaan, rector magnificus at the University of Utrecht. Van der Zwaan launched his book that day: the result of sabbatical he and his wife took in 2015. During that sabbatical they traveled the world and tried to speak with as many educational visionaries as possible. It led to the work: The University in 2040, does it still exist?

In his work, Van der Zwaan introduces 6 worldwide trends in education that will have significant impact on how we learn in the future. The book was published under a creative commons license (free for you to download in Dutch) and I decided that a ‘summary’ of the most important topics covered in the form on an infographic would be a great contribution for the reader of this blog.

6 trends in higher education

  • Global Innovation Hubs: Through urbanisation universities move into the era of the global campus, a university that focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship and is the center of a regional ecosystem and knowledge valorisation.
  • Digitalization: IT will change the landscape of educat ion forever. Online learning and blended learning are just the first signs of a remarkeable shift in education. The future will behold exponential learning through big data, open science and serious games.
  • Debundling: Debundling is the trend towards more personalized, modular education. This trends will mark a shift towards a more global talent pool, accessible education SPOCs, shared intellectual commons and global commons.
  • Lifelong learning: Lifelong learning will solve the continuing mismatch between education and the labour market. Universities will start to offer more customized and problem-solving education and turn into the engaged university.
  • Economic Shift: In the near future governments worldwide will reduce investments in tertiary education and universities will become more privatized. Globally there are huge differences in labour market needs for employees with a higher education degree.
  • Civic University: The main function of the university of the future is unsure. Will the university a) focus on developing talent b) focus on applying research for entrepreneurship or c) focus on fundamental research for dealing with social challenges?

Infographic: the University of 2040

We have created an infographic on the future of education based on the work of Bert van der Zwaan.

5 thoughts on “The University in 2040: 6 trends & an infographic.

  • 26 January 2017 at 23:52

    Hi Jan, for what it concerns the sixth trend “Civic University”, I think that universities could focus on all the three functions pointed out, what do you think about that?

    • 27 January 2017 at 09:09

      Hi Gabriele, I definitely think you’re right. In practice a university could fulfill all three functions. I believe that traditionally it was mostly c) – but for many universities and governments the function of academia is currently under debate and new initiatives are popping up with a main focus on a) or b) or a mixed form of all three.

      • 27 January 2017 at 13:35

        Hi Jan, thanks for your reply. My idea, for example, is that organizing Startups programs focused on global social challenges, tailoring study plans in order to develop talents with an innovative mind able to find innovative solutions and applying related research in order to help the entrepreneurs-wannabe, could be a good strategy to use all around the world. But I’m just a student with an idea, so these are just assumptions for now.

        • 28 January 2017 at 10:49

          That sounds as an interesting direction for universities. However I believe that is what the author meant with what I summarized as (b) a more liberal Angle-Saxon view on the function of the university. The latter (c) would be more a university focused on the Aristotelian view on academia and the former (a) would be more based on the view on academia that arose during the Age of Enlightenment (Newman, The Idea of a University).

  • 28 January 2017 at 12:27

    What you’ve said is absolutely correct thank you soo much for sharing 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *