Back in August, I recommended that readers take a look at a video posted online by my friend, Bill Sams. If you haven’t watched it, check it out at www.epic2020.org. On the Epic web site, you’ll find links to other sites of interest.
In the Epic 2020 video, Sams drew on recent and current events to forecast a radically different environment for higher education, by the year 2020. Regardless of your personal point of view, and certainly regardless of what you want the future to be, I think Sams captures trends that deserve attention. The video has been viewed over 40,000 times, so lots of people are paying attention.
Now, Sams has posted a new video, providing a “…concise view of what has already happened.” The video, which is a brief, Ted-type lecture, leads to the conclusion that 2012 may actually be the tipping point, following which traditional higher education will be forever changed. Check the video at http://epic2020.org/2012-the-tipping-point/. Again, agree of disagree, but do not overlook the fact that Sams has essentially brought together a summary of current events.
My own best guess remains that we will see a variety of options for the pursuit of educational objectives. The challenge, however, will be for individual institutions to identify a program niche, develop outstanding services, control costs, and generate enough revenue to thrive. If an institution sticks primarily to face-to-face delivery to residential students, then I think it will be difficult to be successful. Indeed, far too many institutions have a financial model that actually loses money on every residential student. Without strong endowments to support the financial loss, attracting new audiences is the only hope of survival.
The strategic issues for branch campuses are only modestly different than for main campuses, because branches are more like main campuses than they are different. Delivery and packaging options are extremely significant to diversification and the ability to respond to changing demands.