Is there a future for higher education?

There is so much discussion about how to ‘fix’ higher education. Most proposed solutions are based on individuals’ personal past experiences; hardly the best way to address a topic that will evolve in 5 -10 years in an unprecedented way.

At least now we accept that it is difficult to define the impact of artificial intelligence and technological advancements to the job market. Still though we remain romantic about the importance of higher education at any cost.

digital age

Those with a university degree have higher earnings than those who don’t have one, the data suggest. This statement was true in the past. However, in many countries, the price premiums of these degrees have increased considerably during the last years. Also, the demand for the jobs is higher than the supply. When these parameters are taken into consideration, the reality might be different.

Some advocate about the value of internships as an alternative to the almost only option that currently exists for young people (i.e. universities). The reaction to this proposal is visceral. It is easily labelled as an attempt to reduce social mobility.  People still believe that it is better to have a university degree, a large enough debt and a low paid job rather than… Internships might be an option for some in the short-term. It is not though the solution of the bigger problem of the future of higher education.

Higher education is discussed like it is the end of the journey, although it is only the beginning. Even those who have been in employment for some years, they need to consider how they will up-skill or re-train themselves in order to continue to be relevant and employable. Life-long learning will become a must.

The model of the higher education (at least in its current form) needs to be adjusted to the new reality.

I personally don’t expect politicians to take a meaningful stand on this because there is a lot at stake (primarily their re-election). .

I don’t expect the universities to take the lead either. They have so many vested interests in the current status quo.

At the same time, the big corporations (which already now clearly state that they cannot find skilled employees) are not necessarily trusted.

So, who is best suited to prepare the society for the new norm?

Or is it more convenient to adopt the lets-kick-the-can approach?

Or maybe the change will come from the grassroots…

The bottom line: Technological advancements and artificial intelligence will change the landscape of employment and higher education. It is unclear though how the society needs to get prepared for the new norm.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. This problem will not get away. At some point, we will have to face it. Your views might help shape the response.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She passionately believes in empowering people to  make informed decisions about their career and their finances. She is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her limited spare time, she wants to join forces with others to help everybody to be a better version of themselves.

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