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Why study the future?

April 27, 2009

Higher education institutions invest significant resources in trying to provide students with the highest quality learning experiences. To fulfil their objective these investments need to be directed by continuously updated visions of the future, to take into account emerging demographic trends, technological developments and new cultures of learning. Planning in many higher education institutions, however, is still dominated by short-term thinking about immediate problems and maintaining established practices. Neglect of the long term is increasingly problematic in meeting the challenges of complexity and change in higher education contexts. Those involved in higher education at any level need to be able to look beyond the constraints of the present and engage in systematic envisioning of possible, probable and preferred futures. A success factor in this process is increasing the awareness of higher education institutions of changes in learners’ expectations and cultures. Creating scenarios for possible futures is not only a problem of a discrepancy between a present state and a desired state. Choosing how to describe the discrepancy at a particular time will determine what future will be created and listening to the voice of students in this process is of importance.

Sandra Romenska

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