What will higher education look like in 2020? A new report from the Britain-based Observatory on Borderless Higher Education  draws on interviews with 21 international education professionals in an attempt to answer just that. Here are a few of its main findings:
On MOOCs (massive open online courses), their impact “on pedagogy and university business models will be profound but an evolutionary shift rather than an avalanche of change.”
On mobility, the demand for higher education worldwide will continue to grow, but at a lower rate than in the past 20 years. Growth in international student mobility will not keep pace with the overall growth in demand due to increased capacity in domestic higher education systems and the growth of transnational education opportunities. Specifically, “India’s share of internationally mobile students will rise and China’s will fall. Domestic capacities and demography both pull in that direction.”
Furthermore, the rate of growth for transnational education will exceed the growth in international student mobility. International branch campus activity will be increasingly intra-regional and “South-South” in nature.
China and Malaysia will rise as exporters of higher education.
Students will prefer blended learning to fully online learning: “The future is blended.”
Regarding the unbundling of degrees, in which students earn credits from a variety of institutions (and types of institutions), “The future is also unbundled.”
On public provision of resources, “[t]he gradual withdrawal of the state from the funding of [higher education] teaching in the developed world will not be reversed as the global economy enters a recovery cycle up to 2020. User pays is becoming the norm, though withdrawal of public funding in wealthy countries in continental Europe is unlikely.”
At the same time, governments will put pressure on universities to drive down the costs of degrees. "The online revolution and the ability to unbundle provision from awards, while maintaining access to public loans and grants, will make this feasible. Top research universities will be unaffected. The cultural divide between the elite and the rest will widen in the U.S and U.K."
Public universities will increasingly see private and for-profit institutions as potential partners.