About the public consultation
This public consultation is part of the Futures of Higher Education project which seeks to stimulate creative and imaginative thinking and ideas about the futures of higher education to 2050 and beyond. The project takes a global perspective, nurturing discussions around the role of higher education as part of UNESCO’s larger Futures of Education initiative through consultations with higher education experts, the general public, and youth.
Pathways to 2050 and beyond
This public consultation identified four pathways to the future which had the broad agreement of respondents and/or where multiple respondents expressed themselves similarly. They are linked to people’s expectation for higher education in 2050, and the subsequent calls for action.
[My hope for 2050 is] “Good health and wellbeing, safe and secure, and sustainable future”
46-60/Male/Bhutan/Public sector worker in a field related to higher education.
[My hope for 2050 is] “That we will have a new generation more concerned with making necessary changes happen... people with greater understanding and care for the planet”.
31-45/Female/Brazil/Private sector worker in any other field.
“I hope that humans can reach more goals of sustainable matters, like good education, climate change solutions and coping with global cultural young generational change.”
46-60/Female/Germany/School teacher, staff, manager.
[I would like higher education in 2050 to be] “Technologically driven and addressing humanity’s needs and challenges”
Higher education in 2050
Higher education for all
Higher education should represent and be driven by social justice, it needs to be real for everybody. As a human right higher education should be available and affordable for all students who are willing to be part of it. Yet widening access to higher education should not in any way diminish its quality. It is necessary that higher education becomes more contextualized to the current global challenges be practical and experiential to include various academic and cultural experiences.
Students in higher education should be able to make academic and career choices based on their interests. Universities should allow students to co-create the curriculum whereas teachers would be adaptive to the changing demands. Flexible learning pathways should be provided to assist lifelong learning and motivate students to engage in real-life problem solving.
Organization of knowledge
Higher education should dedicate its knowledge transfer and practices around skills for life and skills for responsible citizenship. It should promote diverse knowledge and ways of knowing, teaching and learning. Higher education institutional practices should be underpinned by innovative research. The acquired knowledge should allow students to develop skills to contribute to local socioeconomic development: topics such as innovation, entrepreneurship, ethics can contribute to this end.
Connected at multiple levels
Higher education has a role to play beyond its institutional practices. It links to its surroundings and serves society in inclusive ways. Higher education has the mission and the capacity to improve the situation of the planet. Higher education development should be based on a global context with local essence. Higher Education has an important responsibility in the development of society in different levels: globally, regionally and locally. Higher Education should generate inclusive systems through partnership with local authorities, local industry and the formation of regional university clusters.
Call to action for higher education
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