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This ‘genius’ professor’s higher ed tech prediction has college leaders worried

Scott Galloway, successful entrepreneur, best-selling author, and professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business whose work has been described as “genius” and who has a track record of making spot-on predictions about market trends, is setting the world of academia on edge with his latest forecast.

“The Coming Disruption: Scott Galloway predicts a handful of elite cyborg universities will soon monopolize higher education,” is the headline of a piece in New York magazine that is quickly making the rounds among professors and administrators.

He predicts big-name colleges will partner with big tech companies and change the way higher education is delivered, while smaller and less prestigious universities basically go out of business, just like that JC Penney in your neighborhood mall.

In the future, on-campus college will still be offered, but only the super-rich will be able to afford them; mostly there will be hybrid models, Galloway suggests.

Part of what’s driving this is families are not willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for Zoom University amid the coronavirus pandemic. The on-campus and life-experience credentialing that attending college brings is part of the deal, he points out. So without that, why waste your money?

This new train of thought will usher in a major shift in the way higher education is delivered, Galloway argues. From the article:

When will there be a reckoning? It has to come before classes begin this fall.
Over the next six weeks, when we realize that the deposits and registrations for the fall are down 10 to 30 percent. The better universities are fine in the short term because they just fill spots from the waiting lists. The kid who’s going to Boston College will get into MIT. But if that snakes down the supply chain, and you start getting to universities that don’t have waiting lists, those are the ones that get hit.

How many schools will collapse between now and next year?
It will be like department stores in 2018. Everyone will recognize they’re going out of business, but it will take longer than people think. There will be a lot of zombie universities. Alumni will step in to help. They’ll cut costs to figure out how to stay alive, but they’ll effectively be the walking dead. I don’t think you’re going to see massive shutdowns, but there’s going to be a strain on tier-two colleges.

There will be a dip, the mother of all V’s, among the top-50 universities, where the revenues are hit in the short run and then technology will expand their enrollments and they will come back stronger. In ten years, it’s feasible to think that MIT doesn’t welcome 1,000 freshmen to campus; it welcomes 10,000. What that means is the top-20 universities globally are going to become even stronger. What it also means is that universities Nos. 20 to 50 are fine. But Nos. 50 to 1,000 go out of business or become a shadow of themselves. I don’t want to say that education is going to be reinvented, but it’s going to be dramatically different.

How?
Ultimately, universities are going to partner with companies to help them expand. I think that partnership will look something like MIT and Google partnering. Microsoft and Berkeley. Big-tech companies are about to enter education and health care in a big way, not because they want to but because they have to. …

You think MIT and Google will be able to put out an online curriculum that will be worth paying tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Yeah, because they’ll have some sort of hybrid model that will involve some in-person work. MIT’s certification — and that education that it’ll be able to string together using its faculty and its brand and the technology of a place like Google — will still be worth that kind of money. The reality is an MIT degree is still worth a quarter of a million dollars in tuition. But is Boston College worth a quarter of a million? I don’t know.

Read the full piece in New York magazine.

MORE: Require administration layoffs before colleges get any more higher ed bailouts

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