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    What will higher education look like in the future?

    HolonIQ’s report, Education in 2030, explores the expansion of global education in depth and identifies five scenarios for the future of learning: education-as-usual, regional rising, global giants, peer to peer and robo revolution. We take a look at each prediction in a little more depth.
    Last updated:
    December 3, 2021

    The future of education is a topic of interest for us and the many higher education professionals we speak with daily. With technology and the gig economy evolving as rapidly as they are, it’s difficult to predict what education will look like in 10 or 20 years time. Luckily for us, HolonIQ’s report, Education in 2030, explores the expansion of global education in depth and identifies five scenarios for the future of learning: education-as-usual, regional rising, global giants, peer to peer and robo revolution.

    Of course, no one can accurately predict the future, but with the right information and insights, you can get a pretty good guess. To reach their five conclusions, HolonIQ used advanced technology to synthesise and augment the perspectives of many stakeholders, including experts in the field of higher education.

    Previously, we’ve chatted to Sophie Bailey from The Edtech Podcast about how the task-based economy will affect teaching in the future, and we recently spoke to VR specialist Gaute Rasmussen about technology’s influence on the future of learning. 

    Now, we take a look at each HolonIQ prediction in a little more depth.


    Photo by NESA by Makers


    ‘The shift in global economic power away from established advanced economies towards emerging economies has closed global inequality between countries, however the relative importance of inequality within countries has steadily increased. In this environment, governments focus on improving their local situations and solving issues unique to their economic position.’

    In this scenario, traditional education institutions prevail. However, the rise of automation, demographic change and changing industry needs has placed pressure on these institutions and they are finding it difficult to keep up with the pace of change.

    Innovative solutions start to emerge - a new style of secondary vocational provider who is better able to facilitate the learning of these ‘new skills’. In terms of government funding, the focus is primarily on ‘job outcomes' as opposed to the quality of teaching and learning.

    Regional Rising

    Significant demographic changes in the 10 years between 2020-2030 have impacted countries and regions differently, with developed nations challenged by an aging workforce and lower economic growth, while developing countries...need to enable education and jobs for their burgeoning populations.’

    In this situation, regional cooperation is key. Countries converge to form multilateral accords in order to overcome issues while strengthening their economies and maintaining important cultural values. This harmonisation is reflected in qualifications and regulatory frameworks.

    The result is a sharing culture between counties and regions. For example, learning resources and curricular are shared and initiatives such as teacher exchange programmes go some way to solving the unequal distribution of teachers and academics. Emerging economies in Asia, Africa and Middle East have led to better educational outcomes.


    Global Giants

    ‘Multilateral agreements and free market policies have removed barriers to international trade and a stable geopolitical environment fosters global competition and growth. Enabled by technology, there is an unprecedented interconnectedness among population and the exchange of ideas and value among cultures.’

    The trend towards hyper-globalisation has resulted in the consolidation of higher education providers and the emergence of global public and private giants. This puts pressure on smaller institutions who struggle to compete.

    Meanwhile, education begins to transcend borders to cater for the global, tech-driven workforce. Tech giants tap into the lucrative education industry’s worth and acquire edtech startups across the value chain, forming alliances and controlling professional skills training.


    Photo by Michael D Beckwith


    ‘...peer-to-peer exchange of goods and services has meant the disintermediation of the ‘institution’ in most industries...This ‘power shift’ from centralised to distributed models is underpinned by technology that supports trust based end-to-end transactions and changes in the role of citizens from consumers, to producers and creators.’

    This new peer-to-peer economy is underpinned by global access to smartphones and the universal adoption of ledger technology like Blockchain. Learning is increasingly carried out on online platforms that offer a personalised experience. Before, learning was considered a separate activity, now technology makes it easier to integrates it into one’s everyday routine.

    The new economy also better enables teachers and academics to exchange and share curriculum resources and content across digital platforms.

    Robo Revolution

    The advancement and applications of artificial intelligence have delivered significant economic benefits to most countries in the world by 2030...Countries with skills and labour shortages have deployed AI technologies deeply into many industries, automating routine tasks and freeing human capital for more value adding activities.’


    Photo by Michael D Beckwith

    In this technology-centric scenario, virtual teachers provide an ‘omnipresent' learning solution for students, setting tasks, receiving feedback, differentiating content according to progress and organising human intervention if needed.

    Digital TAs are also a common feature in primary and secondary classrooms in 2030. They have a comprehensive understanding of their classes and offer a wide range of support to both students and teachers.

    Find out more by downloading the full Education in 2030 report

    HolonIQ’s insightful report definitely provides food for thought. Rather than one scenario prevailing, we envision an amalgamation of all five. But who knows what the future will hold…

    Join the future of higher education conversation on Twitter @fullfabric.




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    Kate Tattersfield

    Kate Tattersfield is a former teacher turned content creator at FULL FABRIC, specialising in writing for the education sector.

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