The Future of Universities: View from the Top

Submission deadline: 4 May 2022

Overview of special issue

Universities are confronting unprecedented challenges that might fundamentally change how they operate. The post-pandemic period has only exacerbated these challenges. Not the least of these, of course, is the challenge to conventional campus-focused institutions and the increased questioning of conventional three-and four-year degrees. Especially noteworthy is the role of universities in providing inclusive education that increases accessibility. Education is key to the eradication of poverty and universities must work to increase their accessibility; this must be at the forefront of everything they do. 

While much has been written about universities in the post-pandemic period, one must remember that the challenges of COVID-19 only highlighted the ongoing challenges and shortcomings of higher education even as there is every reason to celebrate how individual institutions confronted an unprecedented crisis. Unique about this special issue is that it would provide a “global” point of view by including Presidents of universities from around the world. This is consistent with the mandate of International Association of University Presidents (IAUP).

Indicative list of themes

The following constitute some of the important issues confronting universities which must be addressed if they are to be instruments of change in the future. It is important that all levels of universities (faculty, staff, students, boards), and especially the senior leadership, find new ways of addressing these ongoing challenges and resist the temptation to fall back on established ways of doing things: 

  • The role of faculty in the post-pandemic university (there is considerable concern that faculty decision making has eroded during the pandemic). 
  • The increased influence of boards and governments in determining the academic direction of universities (again impacted by the pandemic). 
  • The role of technology and the move to online delivery (this topic has already received considerable discussion) 
  • The future of the liberal arts in the post-pandemic period as universities increasingly focus on practical, applied programming responding to evolving economic and social circumstances.
  • The university’s future role in shaping attitudes and values especially as they relate to the environment, poverty, and larger geopolitical issues. 
  • Increased fiscal constraints on universities. 
  • The role of research and the pressure to create teaching-only institutions; the challenge to issues relating to tenure. 
  • The important of diversity and inclusivity in higher education. 
  • Differences in pandemic responses depending on country. 
  • The importance of institutional ratings in the post-pandemic world. 
  • The degree to which Presidents can influence the direction of their institutions. 

Submission information

Submission window opens: 1 December 2021

Submission window closes: 4 May 2022

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