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.

  • Report release based on the public consultation: Pathways to 2050 and beyond: Findings from a public consultation on the futures of higher education.
  • 1,199 valid responses of people from 97 countries worldwide
  • Answers Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, and Chinese.
  • 4 questions exploring people’s opinions about their hopes and concerns, and the role of higher education should play by 2050.



Respondents distribution


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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.

To provide opportunities for all, access to higher education must be expanded and should be affordable. What is taught in higher education and how it is taught should be adapted to individuals and driven by student choice.

Engagement in society and communities should become more integral to education/teaching and research/science. The core functions of higher education must become more relevant to societal and community needs.

Sustainability should be at the core of everything higher education does through an orientation that is both global and local. Higher education has an urgent responsibility to address environmental, climatic, and other global challenges.

Higher education has a pivotal role in researching, developing, and sharing new technological developments, as well as research and innovation on their use and impact. Technology will increasingly impact teaching in higher education.

Quality of life
Quality of life

[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.

Social Change
Social change

[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.

Care of the environment
Care of the environment

“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.

Development of technology
Development of technology

[I would like higher education in 2050 to be] “Technologically driven and addressing humanity’s needs and challenges”

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Higher education in 2050

Call to action for higher education

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Download report & data

  • Download full report
  • Download data. In line with UNESCO’s commitment to democratize science and knowledge, the full dataset used in this report is freely available to download. The dataset contains all 1,199 valid responses to the public consultation (i.e. invalid and duplicate responses have been removed) in the language that the responses were received in. The data contains the demographic data – location, occupation, age range, and gender identity – as well as the responses to the four open (free-text) questions in the consultation. It is hoped that the dataset will be of interest to researchers and policymakers around the world.