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.
The project is 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 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?
What are you hopeful about when you think ahead to 2050 and beyond? What are you concerned about? What do you think higher education should be like in the future? This public consultation was organized for members of the public to have their say on these important questions. The public consultation was open to everyone, anywhere in the world, of any age, and was completed by 1,200 people in almost 100 countries. The results of the public consultation are being published in the report Pathways to 2050 and beyond: Findings from a public consultation on the futures of higher education, a webinar recording, and an interactive website where you can explore the data from the consultation. The dataset from the public consultation is also being made available as an open access research and learning tool.