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Report: Students Expect Future Universities To Be Flexible, Accessible, Career-Oriented

Students expect universities to be more accessible, flexible and focused on jobs, according to a new survey commissioned by Laureate International Universities and compiled by Zogby Analytics.

The "2014 Global Survey of Students" compiled responses from more than 20,800 students at 37 institutions in the Laureate network. Students from 21 countries participated in the survey, which sought student opinions on what universities would look like in 15 years.

More than two-thirds, 68 percent, of students surveyed said they believe the university of the future will offer "free online libraries where students can access course materials and books and other reference tools," according to a summary of the findings. Fifty-nine percent told researchers they "believe that students will utilize social media platforms to learn and in turn to teach other students," and a 43-percent plurality said they believe universities will offer free online content for most courses.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 52 percent of students who participated said most courses would be offered any time of day or night and 44 percent said most courses would have no fixed schedule;
  • 41 percent of respondents said students would be able to earn specialized certificates to allow them to manage the pace of their academic career, rather than concentrating it into a two- or four-year span with a degree at the end;
  • 54 percent said that collaborative courses focused on group projects will be offered, and 61 percent said that most courses will be designed by industry experts;
  • Students will be able to access personalized instruction or tutoring online, according to 43 percent of those surveyed, and 64 percent said courses will be offered in multiple languages;
  • More than 70 percent of survey respondents told researchers they think "career-oriented skills (not just subject matter) will be taught in future universities," according to a summary of the findings;
  • 43 percent of surveyed students said "their courses will include free content on the Internet to unlimited numbers of students," according to the survey summary. That number increased slightly among students aged 18-24 and those in developing countries, to 45 and 44 percent, respectively;
  • Asian students were both the most likely to tell researchers that future universities will be dominated by online content, and to say they think that's a good thing, with 55 percent saying that changes to how students take courses will benefit them;
  • 44 percent of respondents said they think future instructors will be "part-time industry experts instead of full-time instructors," according to the summary; and
  • Only 21 of respondents said they believe that grades will be based purely on academic performance and 64 percent said they would reflect a combination of academic performance and how much students contributed to teams.

A summary of the survey's findings is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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