Using the past to predict the future: what futures are documented for higher education?
As we again consider what the future holds for higher education, this paper provides a review of the futures documented for higher education. Authors including (McNay 1992; Schuller 1995; Bourner et al. 2000; Abeles 2006; Avila and Ledger 2007; Tynan and Lee 2009; and Melville-Ross 2010) have scoped the future for higher education. This paper considers the structure of these predictions and explores the changes that have been proposed. Design/methodology/approach – The analysis of literature in this paper refers to documents produced by: governments and their agencies; books; and academic articles. This categorisation is based on the framework used by Tight (2003). Two additional constraints are placed on the literature to keep it focused and manageable. First, the literature is restricted to publications in the English language. Second, the literature is limited to material published in the last twenty years. The rationale for this restriction is that the majority of futures research is produced with a twenty year horizon. Findings – Numerous ideas on the future of higher education have been proposed over the last twenty years. Authors have proposed ideas under a range of themes. Although no significant pattern emerges, repeatedly authors have proposed change in relation to: access, teaching, institutional design, funding, ICT/virtual delivery, the student experience and the needs of the economy/labour market. Originality/value - The value of this article is to help create some order, providing an overview of previous writing on the future of higher education.
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