Higher Ed Futures: Why context matters

If you follow the world of literature on higher ed, books proposing ideas for what’s next are released at an almost monthly rhythm.

That’s a good sign. Publishers–and a few authors–are recognizing that the status quo won’t broadly serve higher education in the next decade.

But there’s something missing with (most of) these new releases. Many posit the next move in higher ed. It might be the infusion of technology for online or tech-infused experiences like Minerva. It might be a new wave of hybrid education that revolutionizes the classroom experience. Maybe it’s competency based learning.

But here’s the problem: Context matters.

The strength of this industry is (and can be) its diversity. Pursuing the same metrics and same students and same definition of prestige is what has created many of the current challenges.

Instead, the strategy to develop excellent, relevant learning opportunities for students moving forward will look different for each successful institution.

It will take into account the unique mission of the campus, the top program offerings and expertise of the faculty, and will be grounded in the unique needs and personality of the physical location.

The flagship research-focused state institutions and the well-known private institutions with large endowments will likely continue to offer the familiar collegiate experience of today. But the small and mid-size public and private institutions will benefit from moving into a future that is focused and uniquely their own.

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