IN the not-so-distant future, one way to “go to college” in the United States could be to periodically dip into a state-sponsored university’s educational offerings over the course of a lifetime—paying an annual subscription for the privilege.
This “Subscription University” approach is one of five models for state-supported higher education explored in Deloitte’s report The future(s) of public higher education: How state universities can survive—and thrive—in a new era. These models represent proposed responses to challenges many of today’s public educational institutions face in the United States, including the drastic decline in state funding that has driven unsustainable tuition increases for students; the growing need for lifelong learning as knowledge and skills become obsolete more rapidly; and the demographically driven drop-off in enrollments expected in the next five years.
Each of the five models for public higher education posits innovative ways that state governments, educational institutions, students, and even businesses can work together to create an educational experience that serves students’ needs while remaining accessible and affordable:
While it is unlikely that one model will dominate the next generation of public higher education, new models are sorely needed. Strong institutional and governmental leadership will be critical, as well as a culture that puts student needs at the center of decision-making. Movement toward change will likely require more active state educational system offices that can help define and measure success. New financial models and incentives will also be important: University systems will need to rethink how to allocate revenues and costs, and appropriate incentive structures will need to be developed to inform decisions such as where new positions are added, how space is allocated, and how new ideas and strategic initiatives receive seed funding.
For a deep dive into the possible paths forward for US state universities, download Deloitte’s full report, The future(s) of public higher education: How state universities can survive—and thrive—in a new era.
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