President's Blog

This time around, the prospect of change may be real

My introduction to the Forum on the Future of Higher Education (better known for its trending hashtag #masonfuture) is provided in the video above (fast forward to around min 5′).

Here’s the short version.

Every generation before us has felt that higher education was on the brink of a revolution.  This time around though, it may be true.  This is why:

  1. Public disinvestment in higher education over the last decade has transferred the financial burden from the tax payer to the student (I’m just describing reality, not celebrating it).
  2. Because they are they ones paying the bill, students are increasingly demanding to have education delivered to them in their own terms.  Universities are therefore under pressure to innovate to respond to those demands.
  3. The smartphone (invented 5 years ago) and the iPad (invented 2 years ago) have made the Internet really ubiquitous and are enabling solutions that were simply unimaginable a decade ago. This year’s freshman class was born at the same time the Web Browser was invented.  Our students are literally Internet natives and do not understand life without the Internet.
  4. Put together #2 and #3 and you find the pressures to innovate and the tools to do so.
  5. Innovation will come in three forms: new business models (sorry for my coarse language but I can’t find a better term), better pedagogical models, and personalized delivery forms.

George Mason University is in a unique position to turn these pressures into opportunity for a number of reasons including scale, relative youth, culture of innovation, scholarship stature, location, location, location.

Videos for all sessions available here.