Trends in Higher Education - Strategic Planning

What might Georgia College’s world look like in 2025?

Increasingly limited state support will create pressure to generate revenue and search for alternative funding sources.  At the same time, costs will continue to rise, especially for energy, technology, employee healthcare, and facility maintenance and construction.   Funding initiatives will place an increasing emphasis on retention and graduation.  Governments will put pressure on universities to drive down the costs of degrees.

Continued consolidation of USG institutions may result in a major reduction in the number of USG institutions. 

There will be increasing competition from state, private, and for-profit institutions that use innovative techniques to attract and educate students.  Public universities will increasingly see private and for-profit institutions as potential partners.

Minority students already account for nearly 40% of high school graduates.  By 2023, it will be about half.  More than one-third of Americans will be bilingual, speaking Spanish and English. 

The traditional student population will grow.  Nationally, enrollment of full-time students will increase 12% over the next five years, with enrollment of male students increasing 9% and female students 18%. 

The demand for higher education worldwide will continue to grow, but at a lower rate than in the past 20 years. Growth in international student mobility will not keep pace with the overall growth in demand due to increased capacity in domestic higher education systems and the growth of transnational education opportunities.  China and Malaysia will rise as exporters of higher education. 

Students may prefer blended learning to fully online learning.

People, not technology, will drive educational change.  While technological change will continue to be rapid, implementation in colleges and universities will be driven—or held back—by faculty and staff. 

Academic provision and accreditation are unbundling.  Beyond the reach of elite universities, this process is set to spread and students will choose courses from different institutions and receive credit toward a degree or non-degree certificate.  A wider range of credentials will have status equal to university degrees for employers. Unbundling will see a rise of alternative provision pathways that may have relevance for a greater diversity of students in more parts of the world.  

Employers will demand critical thinkers with great writing skills. 

Generation Z (those born 1996 and later) are the first true digital natives.  Technology is a fluid, organic part of their daily lives.  They communicate constantly and social media is the #1 reason they use the Internet.  Digital connections with the world are essential.  This generation purportedly sends more than 100 texts a day, has an attention span of eight seconds, and multitasks across multiple digital devices.  It is possible—though a bit hard to conceive—that students in 2025 will be even more “plugged in” than today’s students. 

Additional literature envisioning the future of higher education can be found on the Resources page.


  • Projections of Education Statistics to 2022, Forty-first Edition, February 2014, William J. Hussar of the National Center for Education Statistics and Tabitha M. Bailey of IHS Global Insight.
  • This is Gen Z, a primer on Generation Z by Ologie ®.
  • Horizon Scanning: What will higher education look like in 2020?  Observatory on Borderless Higher Education.
  • It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success.  An online survey among employers conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges & Universities by Hart Research Associates, April 10, 2013.