20 Predictions for Higher Education Worldwide in 2021

Published by on Jan 11, 2021, 09:50 am

In 2005, Marguerite J Dennis predicted in her white paper that part-time college attendance will increase, and colleges and universities will offer classes in the evening and at the weekend. She also predicted that women, minorities, and adult learners will dominate future higher education enrolments.

Her predictions were right. Thus, Dennis then dropped more predictions for higher education in mid-2010s, and they were “colleges and universities will ‘buy’ online courses from each other” and that “technology will be the greatest disruptor of higher education over the next five years”. Once again, her predictions came to fruition.

For 2021 and onwards, Dennis shares her 20 predictions for higher education worldwide:

1. Students, faculty, and staff will travel with Digital Health passports, verifying their COVID-19 test results.

2. Students will enroll in colleges and universities with well-established health protocols.

3. Students will attend school year-round in some combination of online and in person instruction.

4. Credit-bearing, gap year programmes will increase worldwide.

5. Students will be admitted year-round and will be notified of admission decisions as soon as their applications are complete.

6. An increasing proportion of higher education enrolments will come from company-sponsored, short-term certificate programmes and boot camps.

7. Enrolments in Google Career Certificates and Microsoft’s global skills initiative, among others, will increase.

8. Vision planning will co-exist with and complement strategic planning.

9. Higher education institutions will hire chief innovation officers charged with implementing vision plans.

10. Consumer behavior will be incorporated into all future strategic plans.

11. Career counselling will begin before enrolment and extend throughout enrolment and after graduation. Colleges and universities will embrace a 10-year acceptance, matriculation and graduation plan for students.

12. Graduation counsellors (formerly called registrars) will map out all of the multi-year courses necessary for graduation prior to a student’s matriculation.

13. Financial aid and debt counsellors will provide estimates of costs and debt prior to enrolment.

14. Transcripts will list competencies earned in courses along with grades.

15. Students will graduate having done at least one internship.

16. Antiquated higher education business models will be replaced with differential pricing structures.

17. Virtual recruitment and admitted student events, as well as faculty and staff conferences, and faculty and staff meetings, will supplement in-person interactions.

18. Some colleges and universities will cease operations. Others will merge with both national and international partners.

19. International student mobility will become more localised, within regions and continents.

20. Geopolitical rivalry between the US and China will impact future international student enrolments.

Was COVID-19 the sole reason for these predictions?

Not exactly. While the pandemic has accelerated the upcoming changes, the predictions were already trending.

Are YOU prepared for the new higher education?

To find out more scholarships and courses, click here and here. is Malaysia’s no 1 higher education website that provides helpful information on courses, institutions and scholarships for students transitioning from secondary school to university level.

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