Jeff Selingo gave a talk on five forces disrupting higher education.  Interesting set:

“swirl” refers to students attending multiple schools, rather than one.

It’s a good mix, hitting major themes.  I can quibble with parts: “Value” should be “Perceived value”, to emphasize the culturally contested form of this, for example.



Higher education bubble: scholarship

Maybe scholarly publications have peaked, and are about to decline, suggests Mark Bauerlein.  He tracks citations for a sampling of schools’ English literature faculty, and finds most underread.

One conclusion:”the overall impact of literary research doesn’t come close to justifying the money and effort that goes into it.”

If we assume a bubble model, with years of rising scholarship eventually exceeding sustainability, then we can expect a crash.  Lit crit output should seize up and decline.

Illinois backing away from college

Demand for higher education is apparently waning in one American state.  Illinois teens and adults have lower interest in academia than they used to.

Reasons put forth: perceived political corruption, a lack of gubernatorial interest in getting people into college.

Why does this matter for futuring?  It’s a datapoint which we might be able to use.  It ties into bubble theories.  Could it be the first sign of the bubble popping?  Or is it an outlier, due to unusual Illinois conditions?

Higher education bubble: Glenn Reynolds

Here‘s a useful example of the higher education bubble argument.  The author is Glenn Reynolds, a law professor and leading conservative blogger.

Reynolds sees a campus bubble inflated by government support (loans, especially) and campus leaders (“like the writers of subprime mortgages a few years ago, got their money up front, with any problems in payment falling on someone else”) .

What a bubble bursting looks like: possibly alternatives to college (Reynolds cites apprenticeships).  Possibly curricular contraction.