3 Scenarios for Higher Education. 'Alpha Prototype'

Born out of Education in 2030 (HolonIQ’s ‘Pre-COVID’ five scenarios deep dive), our Global Higher Education Network reviewed an ‘alpha’ prototype of ‘Three Scenarios for Higher Education’.


Thousands of executives from over 80 countries around the world joined our Q1 2021 Global Higher Education webinar series. The final webinar involved hundreds of Universities, Governments, Firms and Investors voting on the likelihood and preference for an early prototype of 3 scenarios for Higher Education.

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Download the Prototype Scenarios

Our final webinar of HolonIQ’s 2021 Global Higher Education Deep Dives shared an early prototype for 3 Scenarios for Higher Education. Download the slides and watch the replay.

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3 prototype scenarios focused on highly differentiated market structures

One of the primary dimensions for our ‘Pre-COVID’ 5 Scenarios for Education in 2030 was technology. As we enter a new age of technology-enabled learning, the primary differentiator for our 3 scenarios for Higher Education prototype is Market Structure.

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Scenario 1. Education State

In this Scenario, Universities receive state sponsored mandate to takeover vocational and community up-skilling in addition to their higher education role. Cross border mobility slows and Qualifications Frameworks incorporate Micro Credentials. However local qualifications are prioritized as governments focus on their own economies. Higher Education is funded by the state with Income Contingent Loans and/or State Funded Credits dominating. Technology plays a supporting B2B role and B2C models slide backwards. Public-private-partnerships grow as institutions seek to fill capability gaps.

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Scenario 2. Practicum Pivot

In the Practicum Pivot Scenario, universities revert to a ‘R&D’ role, exiting the broad post-secondary education market.  Professional education and upskilling is taken over by vocational and community college systems. Micro 3-month up to 2-year competency-based credentials dominate and 3 to 4 year degrees rapidly diminish, with multi year full time campus-based study is rare. Experiential apprenticeship programs reform the hiring process. Industry associations power curriculum.

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Scenario 3. Learning Market

Learning Market represents a fully de-regulated higher education market, with learners and employers effectively ‘regulating’ higher education based on outcomes delivered. Incentives are geared to effective job performance and labor market outcomes.  Consumers as regulators are agnostic to public/private, everyone competes head-to-head. Policy and funding focuses on productivity and output. Income Sharing Agreements are the dominant funding source. Prices vary to fit the earnings outcome/uplift programs deliver.

Evaluate and Iterate

Throughout the webinar, participants were polled on their critical assessment of the likelihood/probability of each scenario unfolding as the dominant model globally, in their region or home market. Participants also shared their own personal scenario preference, as a learner, to inform a different perspective.

Finally, participants contributed to a ‘Massive Open Online Brainstorm’ of the critical drivers or determinants that in their view and on reflection of the prototype, would define, drive and divide future scenarios for Higher Education.

Download a copy of the Prototype to stay in touch with further developments.

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