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The future of student life: living

Maria Romero (Houston Foresight Program, Houston, Texas, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 14 August 2017




A research project exploring emerging student needs explored six aspects of student life: living, learning, working, playing, connecting and participating. Living is explored here. Increasing numbers of empowered students are actively considering the long-term effects and values in their decision-making that could drive a shift towards a more student-centric educational approach. This paper aims to summarize two scenarios about the Living domain from the Student Needs 2025+ project and highlights implications for the future of higher education.


A modified version of the University of Houston’s “Framework Foresight” method was used to explore the future of six aspects of future student life.


Values shift: the introduction of more postmodern values in the student body will change their dynamic not only as a group but also as individual patterns of consumption and behavior. Technology is a double-edged sword: as an important variable of the social system, technological developments come with unintended consequences that will impact apparently distant areas of the system, like health and personal wellbeing. Lack of long-term vision: students today are not trained to make decisions considering long-term consequences; instead, they would rather choose instant rewards.

Research limitations/implications

In terms of research limitations, the paper is focused on the needs of students and does not purport to be an exhaustive analysis of all of the issues influencing higher education. It views the future of higher education through the lens of students and their emerging needs.

Practical implications

The paper is intended for educators, researchers and administrators to provide insight on how the needs of students and their key customers are evolving.


This piece explores student life in its totality as way to more accurately identify student needs in the future.



Romero, M. (2017), "The future of student life: living", On the Horizon, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 157-160.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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