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The future of student life: learning

Katie King (University of Houston and is based in Grass Valley, California, 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. Learning is explored here. New learning models and approaches and changing student expectations could lead to dramatic reshaping of the higher education landscape. The purpose of this paper is to summarize two scenarios about the learning domain from the Student Needs 2025+ project and highlight 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.


Students will increasingly gravitate toward new learning models focused on experiential learning, taking advantage of advanced “edutech” and aimed at achieving specific outcomes. They will seek personalized learning approaches specific to their needs, and they will be increasingly willing to look outside the traditional higher education system if needed. The landscape will be characterized by power struggles: between the traditional players and the new entrants, between institutions and students and between competing philosophies of learning.

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 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, their key customers, are evolving.


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



King, K. (2017), "The future of student life: learning", On the Horizon, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 161-164.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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