By 2030 over 50% of Colleges will Collapse

By 2030 over 50% of Colleges will Collapse

 

In 1791 when Mozart died, his 29-year-old wife, Constanze Weber, was forced to earn a living, so she began selling her late husband’s manuscripts and turned the former messy paper scraps lying around the house into a tidy income stream.

Lucky for her, she lived after Gutenberg’s printing revolution had begun in Europe allowing her to leverage the power of rapid reproducibility.

Over time, the music industry has figured out many different formats for reproducing music, moving from sheet music, to Edison’s cylinder phonograph, to vinyl records, to 8-track tapes, and eventually to downloadable digital recordings.

During those same 200+ years, colleges have done little to reproduce and distribute college courses, choosing instead to redo each college class, much like ancient monks reproducing the scrolls of history.

When demand for education increased, they simply built more colleges, thousands of them, in fact, all over the world. This is analogous to forcing people to go to concerts and other live venues to listen to music.

Over the coming decades, the amount of education we consume to stay competitive will increase exponentially.

However, the education we “buy” will increasingly be on “our terms” not on theirs. We will want education that is relative, timely, available on-demand, and fits within a specific need. And it will need to be far more affordable.

For these reasons and more, which I’ll explain below, we will begin to see the mass failure of traditional colleges. But out of this will come an entire new education era unlike anything we have ever seen.

Embracing the Digital Era

Over the past decade, the number of people reading printed newspapers, visiting retail stores, and using direct mail have fallen sharply.

At the same time, the amount of news consumed on a daily basis has risen sharply, the overall level of retail sales has continued to increase, and person-to-person communications through email, social media, texting, and other forms of digital communications has exploded around us.

Each industry has forged its own unique path into the digital age.

In the past few months the level of experimentation surrounding college education has shot up considerably, and many are getting considerable traction. A high level of experimentation is always a leading indicator of change even if we don’t have a clear view of what it will look like on the other side.

Key Metrics to Consider

Several driving forces are causing the world of higher ed to feel the ground shift beneath its feet. Consider the following metrics:

Rising Costs

  • In the U.S., student loans exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in 2013 with the average student loan soaring to $23,300. (Source: BBC)
  • In-state tuition and fees at California's largest colleges jumped 130 percent on average during the last decade, or roughly five times faster than inflation. (Source: The Modesto Bee)

Demand for Online Courses

  • In less than 6 years, Apple's iTunesU reached the 1 billion course download threshold. (Source: Apple)
  • In less than 1 year from its founding, Cousera passed the 3.2 million registered student mark. (Source: Inside Higher Ed)
  • Udemy now hosts over 8,000 courses for its base of 800,000+ students. Their top ten instructors have earned combined course revenues of more than $5 million. (Source: The Next Web)
The Seeds of Discontent
  • Last year 284,000 college graduates, including 37,000 advance degree holders in the U.S. were working minimum wage jobs in 2012. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
  • Out of 41.7 million working college graduates of 2010 in the U.S., 48%  worked jobs that didn't require a bachelor’s degree. (Source: Huffington Post)
  • In China, a recent study projected that more than half of the 94 million Chinese earning college degrees between 2010 and 2020 will be working blue-collar jobs because of an oversupply of talent. (Source: International Business Times)
  • According to the Beijing Times, China’s college graduates on average make only 300 yuan, or roughly $44, more per month than the average Chinese migrant worker. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Shifting Trends
  • In their paper "The Great Reversal in the Demand for Skill and Cognitive Tasks" researchers Paul Beaudry, David A. Green, and Benjamin M. Sand conclude that the year 2000 was a turning point where demand for cognitive tasks often associated with high educational skills began to decline. (Source: National Bureau of Economic Research)
  • 43% of Universities are planning to offer MOOCs by 2016, a 30% jump from the number of institutions currently offering them. (Source: USA Today)
According to Andrew Ng, founder of Coursera, “When one professor can teach 50,000 people, it alters the economics of education.”

 

Student Loan Backlash

There’s a big difference between affordability and financeability. Until now, colleges have had a relatively easy time selling a student on getting an education today in exchange for some unknown monthly payment to be determined later.

Hundreds if not thousands of studies have been commissioned over the years to support the value of higher education, and students on the fence are quickly overwhelmed with evidence that they’re making the right decision.

In fact, the anti-education crowd is very small, and those questioning the cost of education have only become vocal during the past few years.

The “education industrial complex” is perhaps the most influential in the world, with everyone from Presidents and world leaders, to Nobel Laureates, to CEOs and business executives all unwavering in their support of colleges and their accomplishments.

Yet for the lowly student sitting at home with $100,000 in debt and the only job available to them is one that doesn't require a college degree, the entire system begins to feel like a house of lies, with festering levels of anger working their way to the top.

Over the coming months this seething cauldron of discontent will begin to erupt in unusual ways.

Eight Reasons Why Over 50% of Colleges will Fail by 2030

So what happens when the legacy power of an institution meets a rapidly changing business environment driven by emerging technology? Some will survive but many will not.

For this reason I’ve decided to focus in on eight core issues for colleges that will drive a wedge between business-as-usual and the unstoppable forces of change.

  1. Overhead costs too high – Even if the buildings are paid for and all money-losing athletic programs are dropped, the costs associated with maintaining a college campus are very high. Everything from utilities, to insurance, to phone systems, to security, to maintenance and repair are all expenses that online courses do not have. Some of the less visible expenses involve the bonds and financing instruments used to cover new construction, campus projects, and revenue inconsistencies. The cost of money itself will be a huge factor.
  2. Substandard classes and teachers – Many of the exact same classes are taught in thousands of classroom simultaneously every semester. The law of averages tells us that 49.9% of these will be below average. Yet any college that is able to electronically pipe in a top 1% teacher will suddenly have a better class than 99% of all other colleges.
  3. Increasingly visible rating systems - Online rating systems will begin to torpedo tens of thousands of classes and teachers over the coming years. Bad ratings of one teacher and one class will directly affect the overall rating of the institution.
  4. Inconvenience of time and place – Yes, classrooms help focus our attention and the world runs on deadlines. But our willingness to flex schedules to meet someone else’s time and place requirements is shrinking. Especially when we have a more convenient option.
  5. Pricing competition – Students today have many options for taking free courses without credits vs. expensive classes with credits and very little in between. That, however, is about to change. Colleges focused primarily on course delivery will be facing an increasingly price sensitive consumer base.
  6. Credentialing system competition – Much like a doctor’s ability to write prescriptions, a college’s ability to grant credits has given them an unusual competitive advantage, something every startup entrepreneur is searching for. However, traditional systems for granting credits only work as long as people still have faith in the system. This “faith in the system” is about to be eroded with competing systems. Companies like Coursera, Udacity, and iTunesU are well positioned to start offering an entirely new credentialing system.
  7. Relationships formed in colleges will be replaced with other relationship-building systems – Social structures are changing and the value of relationships built in college, while often quite valuable, are equally often overrated. Just as a dating relationship today is far more likely to begin online, business and social relationships in the future will also happen in far different ways.
  8. Sudden realization that “the emperor has no clothes!” – Education, much like our money supply, is a system built on trust. We are trusting colleges to instill valuable knowledge in our students, and in doing so, create a more valuable workforce and society. But when those who find no tangible value begin to openly proclaim, “the emperor has no clothes!” colleges will find themselves in a hard-to-defend downward spiral.

Ironically, we are entering into a period where the demand for education will rise substantially. Yet traditional colleges are such a mismatch for what future consumers will want that dropping enrollments will cause many to fail.

At the same time many new opportunities will begin to surface, and future-learning centers will make use of former college facilities. Some may even resurrect the former institution under an entirely new business model.

Declining Enrollment Scenario

With several new alternative education options arising, many colleges will begin to experience a decline in their enrollment. When revenues run short, the first instinct will be to arrange short term financing. This coupled with long term bonds and other obligation will create a growing mountain of debt.

As less expensive schools with extensive online capabilities begin to "steal" students, several colleges will engage in a pricing war to "keep their numbers up." Many will spend heavily on marketing to change their image and boost enrollment. Others will spend heavily on lobbyists in hopes of gaining more support from government.

Some will experience declining revenues, others declining enrollment. Most, however, will experience both.

How many colleges that experience a 10% decline in enrollment/revenue per year, will still be around after 5 years?

In the business world, declining metrics like this are referred to as a "death spiral." How long will it take before dramatic changes are made? At what point will layoffs begin, assets be sold, or mergers be considered?

For state-supported institutions, at what point will an emergency session of the state legislature be called? If 3-5 state-supported colleges are all experiencing enrollment/revenue declines at the same time, at what point will the state decide to "walk away" from what they perceive to be a never-ending money pit?

How many colleges or universities will have the ability to reinvent themselves as this is occurring?

Final Thoughts

Imagine coming across a job opening that requires a specific certification you currently don’t have. You match up well will all of the other job requirements but you’re only missing this one certification.

A few clicks later you find out the certification can happen online with 20 hours of training. So you spend your weekend getting certified.

Yes, there’s a big difference between having a cursory understanding of a topic and working level proficiency. But for many of us our future careers will hinge on situations like the scenario I just described.

As a society we’ve grown complacent, thinking smart people in colleges are doing a good job preparing our kids for the future. Yet higher ed has become a lumbering giant, slow to adapt and increasingly out of sync with the needs of business and society.

The same top-down institutional systems that have preserved colleges for centuries are now becoming their greatest enemy.

Much as failed golf courses, big box retailers, and shopping centers end up in the laps of local communities, failed colleges will also become local problems for city governments to deal with.

Pedestrian campuses that worked well during peak enrollment have a way of becoming white elephants for whatever comes next.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be focusing on “what’s next” for colleges and universities. With the right transitioning effort, the downside may not be as dismal as what I’m predicting.

At the same time I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” - the book that changes everything

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42 Responses

  1. Thomas,

    Excellent article and I am in full agreement with your conclusion. I saw your presentation at last year’s WFS conference in Toronto (and your keynote in Vancouver the previous year) and enjoy your messages.

    I wrote a complimentary article to yours that appeared in the Futurist magazine (March/April 2013 – also on my website). The element that I believe needs greater attention is that while we are going through this great period of uncertainty over the value of a college degree, the private sector is in an equal state of uncertainty. In our existing (but diminishing) employment (jobs) work paradigm, those who are still willing and able to hire don’t know how to assess these new educational processes and outcomes. If the degree isn’t a reliable gauge of knowledge and workplace connectivity, how in the heck do they accurately assess what udacity and Itunes U courses bring to the table? That reliable assessment piece is a critical factor in the migration away from expensive/debt inducing college degrees to the pursuit of knowledge and skills from non-degree offerings. And a heck of a business opportunity for someone who can combine both the knowledge and personality/works and plays well with others/company culture pieces into one assessment tool.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Rob Bencini

  2. Drake Adebayo Awofuye

    Quite right, I see change as being relentless in crippling the current educational system and the degree/certificate losing its authoritative, almost stentorian claim on credibility and competence that accompanies its acquisition. However, this inevitably tilts in the direction of Rob’s arguement of accountability and gauging problems inherent in online non-degree-offering sustitutes. This indeed has to be factored into any revolutionary formula in order to even begin contemplating a fool-proof transition. Eagerly await your next post.

    P.s; read alot about you and your futuristic appeal. A true visionary you are sir.

  3. Excellent article, per usual. Another major factor is the increasing disconnect between what is being taught and what the market is looking for. The world is changing faster than the 3-5 procurement cycle, politics, and the navigation of multiple levels of bureaucracy it takes to add a new course.
    In my view, 2030 is being too generous – most universities don’t have a significant endowment and they are so highly leverage due to the unending “pissing contest” to have the newest facilities or big name professor that even a small drop in enrollment will prove catastrophic to their business models.

  4. Shirley Goldstein

    The tipping point has already started with young people. I know several high school graduates who are forgoing four-year college because of the expense (they don’t want loans), they do not see the value of a four-year college degree (because their older siblings and cousins who graduated are unemployed/underemployed and their own parents with college degrees got laid off), and they’ve watched their older siblings/relatives have terrible encounters with professors and administrators. These young people feel that they will do just fine without college as we know it.

  5. FuturistSpeaker

    Rob,

    You’re right, the assessment piece is woefully lacking. Today’s resumes and CVs paint a very crude picture of who someone is and where their core talents lie. Employers are seeking a far more granular picture. I certainly don’t have all the answers but one of my favorite topics is micro-credits – http://www.futuristspeaker.com/2013/02/micro-credits-a-tool-for-self-organizing-the-complex-world-of-education/

    Thanks for weighing in,

    Thomas Frey

  6. FuturistSpeaker

    Simon,

    Thanks for your comments. The reason I used 2030 is because colleges have a huge amount of inertia which will give them abnormal longevity. Alumni associations, past and existing faculty, and even the government will take unusual strides to keep them alive.

    But you’re right, the changes are happening near term and many will fail before then.

    Thomas Frey

  7. FuturistSpeaker

    Shirley,

    Great feedback. I’m also aware of many students choosing a different path than college. The problem is that we don’t have enough good viable alternatives for young people yet.

    One option we started at the DaVinci Institute is our DaVinci Coders program (www.davincicoders.com) where people can learn the programming language Ruby on Rails in less than 90 days. Many similar coding schools are cropping up around the country.

    I can envision similar full-immersion programs in areas like big data modeling, mobile app development, specialized 3D printing, and more. People who launch these types of training camps will be well positioned to catch the next wave.

    Thomas Frey

  8. Roger Loving

    Education is always an interesting subject, and this was nicely presented. Thank you.

    Having gone to HS in the 1960s, undergrad – BS in Engeering @ CU – in the 1990s, and postgraduate work a decade later has given me a longer term view of education. In the first thirty years nothing changed; in the last decade much has.

    I agree the change will happen. I particularly agree with your points 1,4,6,&7. Professional credentialing will be forced to take non-traditional education seriously.Some of that has already begun.
    The social aspect of education is just as important as the technical – possibly more so. How that will be accomplished seems still wonderfully vague.
    Roger L.

  9. JB Vick

    I built a mobile app for a major university couple years back. this app was designed to enhance the learning of young students. In the course of development, my contact at the school was constantly reminding me to “dumb down” the app to make it easy for the professors to use. I finally asked him Why, if these professors were teaching a technology course , did the app need to be “dumbed down”? and his reply was “everyone knows that professors are the least technical people on campus”. I then asked him how much a typical professor (who we were dumbing down” for, earned per year. His reply, “about 150k”. I instantly saw the writing on the wall. College professors will be like travel agents sooner than they realize. The great ones will have jobs, anyone who is not great will not be able to find a job anywhere.

  10. Oh yes. And the sooner the better!

  11. Mike Burke

    Tom – Good points you are making. The current model of education has really transformed from when we were in school. Education is now big business and expected to bring in its own money in states like ours where our government has cut funding every year for, it seems, the past two decades. When I saw the tuition at a major public institution, the School of Mines was not significantly less than many “private” universities, it became clear that with the current debt load students have at graduation, we are making education the territory of the wealthy who can afford the escalating tuitions. Then there is degree inflation, adding more to the debt burden. When I got my BS, that was considered sufficient to have a good job and it was even better when I got my MS. Now you nearly need a doctorate to start – and then you are overqualified! A new model will evolve, and the large brick-&-mortar institutions will thrash about trying to figure out what “went wrong” as they whither up. Some will be able to adapt and others will not. Evolution, I guess, with many dinosaurs turning into chickens in the end. With organizations like Coursera, etc and the rise of the MOOC, some new approach will arise and some of the young individuals who have come out of the current system will be able to figure out an alternative approach to the issue of credentialing that will recognize talent. One kind of coursework does seem difficult to do online or via MOOC, though, and that is courses where laboratory skills need to be taught. I suggest you look online at an illegal institution in Iran, the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education, handles that. It can be done.

    Good article and thanks for starting this discussion. I teach in the proprietary college sector and wonder how that can stand up to the changes.

  12. Of course that’s a great article, as the biggest issue is parents sent kids to college to network and meet people, you don’t need to meet people anymore as you can use facebook, twitter, instragram ect and dating sites and more people online then possible if you tried in real life.

  13. Educationist

    Radical change is required throughout the educational system – college, yes, but at all levels. I suggest focus on pre-school and early elementary learning to provide a clearer pathway for radicalizing education at higher levels.

  14. Lew Rabenberg

    Who is to do the credentialing? And who is credentialing them? And who is credentialing them? … and who trains them?
    Everybody seems to be appealing to a higher authority.

  15. Chris Yapp

    Good article, but I suspect that it’ll be more than 50%.

    20 years ago I did calculation for UK ( 150 HE and 540 FE). I came to the conclusion that within a generation you’d need a population of a million to support a Vocational College or a University. So I suggested around 60 for UK HE and FE. Given population will be around 70 million in 2030 ( If UK still exists i.e Scotland) that is over 50% of Universities but less than 20% of vocational further education colleges still around.

    Given arrangements differ in different countries the numbers are difficult. One trend since I made my predication has been a growth in single speciality colleges. For example in UK we’ve had a tradition of agricultural colleges, but not many in for instance trades.

    The growth of private colleges may change that in UK as well as outsourcing of corporate training.

    Reading your article doesn’t shift my basic numbers, but it’s good to see this important topic being aired.

    Thank you

  16. Universities in retrospect have little to do with education today, and everything to do with constructing a dependent bureaucracy. This was obvious to me in 1974 when I considered the system unsustainable (Limits to Growth, Tragedy of the Commons). My decision to leave my field, neuroscience, to become an independent futurist has led to fascinating blacklisting, my clients threatened, contracts abrogated unilaterally, even requests that I leave the country under subsidy. My evaluation now is enormous happiness at what I have been able to accomplish as an independent neuroscientist-futurist, and a feeling about universities that I wanted to make beneficiaries to my estate. Bless those who enabled chaps like me to have freedom of choice while the bureaucrats have freedom from choice. As for the bureaucrats who I sought to make beneficiaries to my appreciable estate, they are prisoners in cubicles, and I gladly leave my estate to those who really matter. idiocy, full of sound and signifying nothing.

  17. Tom Clark

    I’d like to add two personal observations to this great article:

    1) Getting into is geared towards high achievers in test taking and “intelligence measurements” and/or to those with lots of money. If you are an average student, it is almost impossible to get a scholarship and if you are not wealthy, you will be at a disadvantage in college choices and you will be further financially burdened for a significant amount of time. Last time I checked, most kids are average students and most families aren’t wealthy. It seems to me that colleges have a narrowed few of what “success” will be and are relying to heavily on wealthy support. This is a pretty poor business model.

    2) Our K-12 education system is in disastrous alignment with the failing secondary education system. Race To The Top is not much better than No Child Left Behind. We are measuring our kids future potential based on how they score on tests. Our school systems are filled with wonderful teachers who understand our children’s needs and try and meet those needs in the face of daunting curriculum mandates and narrow, strict testing guidelines. I’ve experienced so many wonderful teachers with collaborative and flexible teaching ideas only to see them thwarted because they are forced to teach to mandates that only act as true “success measures” for a few. Programs like the Khan Academy are a step in the right direction, but until we fix our K-12 education system, changing our secondary education system will be very challenging.

  18. William Stewart

    I too agree on this. My own particular desire is that we will press on to see a division between the “educating” and “gatekeeping” capacities of education. People can progressively have the choice of gaining experience from a mixed bag of sources, and will select qualification alternatives autonomous of where they got their data.

    There are numerous online choices that make an extraordinary showing making fantastic data open. Data that has been “screened” by respectable institutions might be made accessible gratis to anybody with a web association. It is currently conceivable for working individuals and cool learners to captivate and even to study at their own particular pace. The downside: the same simple accessibility and adaptability makes it inconceivable for these organizations to succeed at the gatekeeper role, and its difficult to perceive how they could settle that – other than to basically not attempt; to concentrate on their main thing, and gave someone a chance to else tackle the issue of how to guarantee document skills.

    At the same time anything is superior to a college system where understudies acquire a huge number of dollars in obligation, study small, and turn out unemployable. An excessive amount of people are working at occupations that don’t even pay enough to blanket living expenditures in addition to the college loan payments.

  19. Erik

    49.9% are below the median, not necessarily below average unless the courses follow a perfect normal distribution.

  20. An awesome article-very well done. My company is an educational Disrupter. We provide Live Virtual Classroom courses to large and small organizations at a compelling price-anytime and anywhere. Our instructors are mostly retired or disenchanted top shelf instructors from the present educational system (higher education). We are a close family built on trust and performance delivering what the customer wants, when they want it, in the language they want it in, at a price they are happy with. Based in small town Ohio, we do not have all the legacy fixed costs which makes us most flexible. All of us are products of the present educational system and have been watching this death spiral come or some time. It is certainly in motion now and accelerating. Thank you for your efforts- keep then coming.

  21. Matt Hall

    What is a “top 1% teacher”? How will indifferent and unsure community college students respond to a Harvard professor’s lecture projected on a screen? This discussion is just too simplistic to take seriously. That “1% teacher” won’t be evaluating student work. The necessarily different evaluations of student work in different groups and locations is what will matter. You must reconsider what learning really is before you try to reinvent it. That which is widely available losses value. People will always try to distinguish themselves by obtaining that which is more scarce than that which isn’t. If everyone can watch a harvard lecture, watching a harvard lecture will quickly loss value as a marker of distinction in the job market.

  22. I totally agree and I think the biggest problem is really the generalist degree that will lead to the failure of the University system.

    If someone becomes a doctor or lawyer they can do ok as there is a defined job for them in the workforce. The trouble is that a generalist arts or science degree is not nearly as usedful as it does not lead to any kind of job.

    What I think we will see more of in the future is temporary jobs where someone will learn a particular skill, run with it as a career for a few years and then move on to the next skill stream that they jump on.

    The soft skills are critical and these are the ones that help people now in the workplace

  23. Muvaffak GOZAYDIN

    you are wrong.
    90 % will be closed by 2030
    50 % by 2020.

  24. Eero Loonurm

    Dear Thomas, thank you for the article!
    Just some questions:

    1) What about the subjects you can never fully learn online? Intepreting, cooking, physical education, piano, pre-school teaching, painting etc? All these require practice and communicating with a professor.

    2) Currently many people enrol to top universities in order to study with the best people and to get the best in-real-life contacts for the future. People who study together in the same room with the brightest students have an advantage over the students who get their education online, because they know who to trust and with who they have worked and studied with during all these university years.

    I would like to hear your comments:)
    In general, I do not agree with the fact that 50% of the colleges in the world will collapse – I believe that many of them will merge, restructure or go more specific like become single speciality colleges.

  25. FuturistSpeaker

    Eero,

    The number of private four-year colleges that have closed or were acquired doubled from about five a year before 2008 to about 10 in the four years through 2011, according to a study last year by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., citing federal data. Plus, among all colleges, 37 merged in the three years through 2013, more than triple the number from 2006 to 2009, according to Higher Education Publications.

    All of the schools in the Vanderbilt study that closed in recent years were small, with fewer than 1,000 students and average assets of less than $50 million. Most had endowments of about $1 million. Many were religious, such as Bethany University in Scotts Valley, California, which shut in 2011. Some folded into other colleges such as Southern New England School of Law, whose assets were acquired by the University of Massachusetts in 2010.

    The proportion of high school students in the U.S. who go on to college rose regularly for decades but now appears to be declining.

    Last October, just 65.9 percent of people who had graduated from high school the previous spring had enrolled in college, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said this week. That was down from 66.2 percent the previous year and was the lowest figure in a decade. The high point came in 2009, when 70.1 percent of new graduates had gone on to college.

    Declining enrollment has forced many colleges to offer deeper tuition discounts to attract students, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The average freshman discount rate rose to 45 percent in 2012 from about 40 percent in 2008

    All of these constitute early warning indicators that traditional higher ed is in trouble.

    Over the coming years we will very likely see a decoupling of content and delivery. And perhaps and even more dramatic shift will occur when we see a decoupling of learning from credentialing.

    Colleges have the power to adapt, but their bureaucratic processes for making decisions will make it impossible for them to adapt quickly enough to stay afloat.

    Ironically, in my way of thinking, the demand for education will increase significantly over the coming years. But it will be the newcomers who capture the lion share of this market.

    Thomas Frey

  26. Yes, all this clearly is coming… BUT also i see high schools declining in the same way. Property Owners taxed for brick and mortar will revolt and help bring the lower cost of online learning with high school students

  27. internet university

    cloud unversity

    web university

    online university

    HARVARD AID TO EDUCATE ONE BILLION THROUGH EDX

    ONE BILLION STUDENTS.

    the time has for one university or 10-20 university to educate millions, if NOT all 7 billion people on earth.

    Apple ceo steve jobs: he did NOT want to be richest man in cemetary.

    No 1. professor in cemetary. All college professors should give their knowledge away for free free free one.

    No professor can teach from the cemetary.

    college professors should sign the Bill Gates/Warren Giving Pledge. No professor can take knowledge to the cemetary.

    Post all courses, lectures, research on internet/web before we the great university in the next life.

    No, professors, rich or poor people takes anything to the next life. or the afterlife.

  28. Tamera

    Education is very much an institution. From the time we enter until the time we leave.

    Think about how strange it is that we send our children into a place where there’s hundreds of other children and adults who have learned to cater to them. I think it may be doing more harm than good by creating a disconnect between generations.

    Not that everyone should be involved with children but I do think schools shouldn’t be so closed off.

  29. Theme: Adjust pulled up in China Education Standardization of the first year of Venture Capital Development.

    Accounting Education is rapidly changing with the development of the International
    Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB).

    Finally, individual accommodations and encouragement can promote learning and ease frustrations over physical difficulties.

    Christian education is the method of transferring, developing and nurturing knowledge in a teaching-learning environment based on a Christian perspective so that students achieve both mental and spiritual growth. Increasing children’s physical activity means they will lead much healthier lives down the road. “Should be multi-legged walking,” he suggested, engaged in primary and secondary schools merge, there have been idle
    for schools and teachers can use these idle run nursery school, teachers also need them idle. Character Education by “Just Do The Right Thing” is a practical and powerful tool that equips educators to tackle values training with confidence.

    Inasmuch as there maybe some negative impacts of IT and technology, the role it has played in education is undeniable.

  30. Andrew Peterson

    MOOCs will end education, 1956 edition:

    http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Radio-Electronics/50s/1956/Radio-Electronics-1956-05.pdf

    Zoom down to page 33 for the same rant.

  31. Keith

    While I agree with the sentiment that universities and colleges need to evolve, I disagree that the experience of education is analogous with that of a purely consumer model.

    I listen to music. I buy books. I can ask neither questions, or be questioned for understanding and mastery. It is asserted that my purchase is a single transaction.

    When I participate in a class, I’m being asked to demonstrate knowledge, engage in discussion, and have two-way conversations about the topic.

    Imagine, for example, a chemical engineering class taught without lab experiences. Imagine a philosophy course taught without the synchronous debate or socratic method so prevalent in those courses.

    These are not irreplaceable through online or non-traditional means certainly, but the expense to develop rich learning environments, the cost of staffing them, and the potential skewed view of non-traditional education models will persist in employer’s mind.

    A good statistic to look at would be whether those ~250,000 minimum wage degree holders attended a 4 year college or university, in what field was their degree, are they living in an area that supports that career path, and how did they perform during their years at university?

    I may be an amazing artist, but if I live in a community where little opportunity exists for my artist skillset to make me money…yeah…I’m going to be working minimum wage. The same is true for someone who may have a mechanical engineering degree, but lacked any sort of internship experience and had poor grades. Further, what about students who attended an online college or university where bias may be causing them to miss out on job opportunities or other circumstance prevents them from more lucrative employment.

    After all, is a high paying job the appropriate outcome measure of a college degree? Are there people toiling away in colleges of education aspiring to be the next Warren Buffet? Are there musicians who are doing it for the awesome 401(k) package their employers will offer when they graduate?

    The notion that colleges and universities are compelled to evolve is 100% true. The market is different and you’ve done a great job pointing that out. Many will fail. Look at Sweet Briar recently. However, the notion that a paradigm shift is upon us fails to grasp the nuance of the statistics being used to support the claim.

  32. Mike

    I had never thought of it in this way, but you are so right about colleges having done little to reproduce and distribute college courses in a more efficient and modern way. And it makes so much sense that colleges have done so, after all, the competitive advantage of colleges and universities is their control over information and knowledge and the state sanctioned ability to issue certifications about knowledge.

    Their source of revenue is the accumulation, control and distribution of knowledge. If that control over that commodity is gone, so is their capacity to profit from it. So, they will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo.

    We know how this will be done. Lobbying and lots of it. The ivy league institutions have enormous economic power and influence over governmental institutions. They will resist with all their strength and influence any threat to their exclusive control over knowledge.

    Like Napster did to the music industry, MOOC’s will do to the “educational industrial complex”. It will not make it disappear, as you mentioned, but it will severely disrupt it.

    A more competitive “educational industrial complex” will assure the survival of the best institutions, at lower prices and a transformation of the surviving ones into more efficient, modern and fair distributors of information and knowledge. Let us see what happens.

  33. Richard McKee

    While maybe not probable, I’d offer a viewpoint to the contrary. There could be a mass consolidation of college campuses into corporate conglomerates. The education system is driven by money, plain and simple.

    There are 2 things a college is selling to 2 very different groups. Group A consists of young men and women who are meeting the peers they will associate with for the rest of their lives. The cost of college and exclusivity represent a social expense that will always be justified, and rightfully so. Connections are everything in the business world; so I think it’s a shortsighted argument to say that traditional college is a bad investment even if you don’t learn a lot of immediately relevant information.

    The other group of people that will be looking for services at these college conglomerates will contain professionals as mentioned in the article (20 hours of weekend training to get a job) as well as others seeking specific areas of interest. They will also benefit from these massive college campuses by getting hands-on, in person training at workshops coupled with online resources.

    I foresee the private sector consolidating academic resources and exploiting them for their true potential.

  34. Jon

    … eh. Sorry, but I don’t hink I buy it. Digital and online courses are all well and good, but there’s one thing they really can’t do that’s absolutely necessary, at least in my experience:

    They can’t answer questions.

  35. Daniel Sokol

    I learned very early in my education career that school is a business. Promoting the degree as a path to success worked in the past but the world has changed. The comment bureaucracy will impede change is correct and we all know what happens when you fail to adapt.

  36. Dan Burt

    I agree with you that education needs a major overhaul, & if left to the private sector a very high percentage of universities would fail. But the Government doesn’t care about things being profitable. The Government sees political value in Higher Education, so they will continue to fund it and tax us to pay for it.

  37. Tom Heap

    I suspect that this article is driven by a touch of jealously if not anger that some (certainly not all) university educators are making 100K+, rather than an honest concern for rethinking the system. Moreover, the article also ignores one fundamental goal of education, and that is socialization of students into norms of behavior concerning relationship with peers and authority. These skills translate directly into advantages in the workplace. Being told to hand a 2000-word essay on concept of honor in nineteenth century American literature isn’t only about learning a complex subject, its about translating ideas into on-time deliverables and receiving timely feedback. Participating in a seminar on Greek concepts of freedom is about learning how to interact with your peers and participate in verbal debate. On-line delivery of courses ignores the benefits of face-to-face social interaction that contributes to development of communication skills and creates socially adept people able to navigate complex interactions in business and other workplace settings. Such people can read and synthesize complex data with easy and convert it into verbal and written reports quickly and accurately. That is very hard to teach on line, and that plus the social contacts students make with each other is why university education is here to stay. It’s been with us for 800 years or longer, and it’s certainly not going away.

  38. David McDonald

    I am a multimedia producer who has also taught photo, audio, and video courses at a community college. When I need to get some “education” I go to youtube for free for general stuff and my paid membership at lynda.com for the real detailed info. I tell this to my students and they totally get it. The value of the higher ed piece of paper is rapidly diminishing. Recently linkedin.com bought lynda.com because they want to merge job search with job skills. That appears to me to be some 2015 specific for-profit action that supports your 2030 prediction about higher ed institutions fading away. If linkedin and lynda get too spendy, then other options will flourish. The key is reputation for reliability, quality, affordability, and easy access for the specific skills one needs to survive in the Digital Age. And since Hollywood is really the most effective teacher around, I think it is time to make a 21st century update of the 1973 film “Paper Chase”.

  39. Canek

    Great article, but the purely economic stance you have taken looking at colleges overlooks the massive political shift behind why the college system is viewed purely in money and profits. Education is no longer looked at as a public good thanks to political movements that have shaped education as purely something that should feed into economic profits. We do not look at other things, like fire departments, this way because we recognize their public benefit. 60 years ago when returning White GIs had their education paid for by federal money, the arguments you make didn’t matter because education was seen as a public benefit for them. A shifting culture fueled by the notion, such as the one you are forwarding, that education should be tied to bottom line profit directly, therefore overlooks that the real reason college is in danger is because it no longer serves dominant segments of society like it once had, and arguments such as yours that only look at the bottom line are easy to critique as a result for their inability to connect the diminishing public funding for schools with larger historical movements that use code words like fiscal responsibility to justify arguments to cut back on funding that benefit the vast majority of people.

  40. Wampastompa

    Something else to consider is that colleges are very much *for-profit* institutions. Their services or *products* don’t come with any sort of customer satisfaction. The truth of the matter is, students are paying with money they’ve borrowed, for an education. I feel as though there should be one fee, you pay it, then you go to school until you’ve completed the coursework satisfactorily. As an academic, I went to a local community college for two terms, and was completely dissatisfied with their service. I wrote to the business office and the president’s office, and was declined any sort of refund (I got an A in both classes). I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know…This educational model really needs an update.

  41. Ingrid

    Interesting article, however very ethnocentric. As a Canadian, tuition fees, though increasing, are not out of control, and neither are they in many European countries. Therefore, this article should not lump international education in with American education, citing American statistics only. The title should be: “50% of American Colleges will Collapse”. The whole world has known for a long time that tuition rates are ridiculous over there, and yes, I would have thought long and hard before attending a university if I were an American citizen for cost reasons alone. As well, I feel like my university education was well worth it, not only for the piece of paper, but I don’t believe “attending” an online university could have ever replaced the social life in which marked my undergrad more than my actual learning. I guess many people love Tinder, but for me online dating is a terrible way to try to meet someone of interest, and I know many others who would agree. So no, I don’t think at least that part of the argument is justified. Nothing can replace human contact. Furthermore, the job market must accept this change first. If I want to become a teacher, for example, or an engineer, you need a university degree or you will not even be considered for a job. I think what will happen with universities in the future to stay alive is that they will do their own market research to see which degrees are in demand instead of offering thousands of history, philosophy and visual arts degrees, for instance, when there is no room for all those qualifications.

  42. In response to Ron Bencini’s comment, rather than assess the credibility of, well, a candidate’s credentials, more and more employers are looking to see if you walk the walk. I’ve had HR experts share with me how much attention they pay to LinkedIn Groups. Is this candidate actively engaging the community of their field? Are they making intelligent and positive contributions? This won’t help the person who gets certified in a weekend. However, it does open a lot of doors for the autodidactics who have struggled with traditional education structures. You still need to prove yourself, but the platform is now more social than paper.

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