Futures of Higher Education

 

This project on the Futures of Higher Education will stimulate creative and imaginative thinking and ideas about the futures of higher education to 2050. The project takes a global perspective, nurturing discussions around the role of higher education as part of UNESCO’s larger Futures of Education initiative.

Recent years have seen phenomena such as the growth of private providers and privatization of publicly funded higher education, the development of accreditation systems, increased access, and shifts in how higher education is funded. Challenges and opportunities external to higher education systems include demographic shifts, political change, economic crisis, war and conflict, and, as we have seen recently, global pandemics.​​​Recent years have seen phenomena such as the growth of private providers and privatization of publicly funded higher education, the development of accreditation systems, increased access, and shifts in how higher education is funded.

The project will be guided on the one hand by how higher education has been shaped up until now, revisiting what in the recent past has already been proposed as desirable or plausible futures for higher education. On the other hand, we seek to find ways to remove the constraints of starting from the past and present on our future visioning. This is particularly important in relation to notions of higher education that have become dominant, but which do not reflect the plurality of knowledge traditions that exist.

The project will innovatively generate a range of new perspectives on the futures of higher education based on expert and open consultations, youth focus groups, and a multilingual literature review. The two guiding questions for the project are: How would you like higher education to be in 2050? How could higher education contribute to better futures for all in 2050? 

Expert consultations 

Through consultations with higher education experts from every part of the world, we will generate innovative and visionary ideas about the purpose and functions of higher education around the world as it might be thirty years from now. By higher education experts, we mean people with extensive experience in teaching, researching and/or enacting higher education. 

Open consultation 

Would you like to have your say about higher education in 2050? What do you think higher education for the future will be like? In spring 2021 we are running an open consultation for anyone, anywhere in the world, of any age, to give their feedback and suggestions on these two important questions. The consultation is available in English, French, and Spanish.  

Youth focus groups 

At IESALC, we think it is critical to involve young people –as the next generation of higher education students in the conversation. In partnership with organizations and UNESCO offices around the world, we are organizing a series of focus groups with youth aged 8 to 15. Focus groups will be held in all world regions, enabling us to hear from a diverse range of young people.

Multilingual literature review 

To complement the consultations and focus groups, we will also account for previously produced publications on the futures of higher education through an extensive literature review of works published in the last decade. This multilingual review will review English, French and Spanish literature and we also plan to include Arabic, Chinese and Russian.  ​


For more information about IESALC’s Futures of Higher Education project, please contact Emma Sabzalieva at e.sabzalieva@unesco.org

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