In 100 years when our grandchildren and great-grandchildren describe the early 21st century what major factors will they identify as having the greatest influence on our professional world? Looking at our world through that lens will help us strip away many minor factors and day to day influences so we can focus on the big picture which can help with long-term planning.
At the OACUHO conference earlier this summer at McMaster I shared the macro factors I see having the greatest influence on higher education in the coming years and how these factors are influencing the model we have used to deliver housing to students for the past half century. My list of macro factors included the following:
- Government finances & politics, specifically debt and how it is being managed
- Greater influence of groups such as student unions and developers
- Enrollment pattern changes which broadly indicates a leveling off of enrollment nationally
In short, student affairs and higher education can expect to see less money, less students (generally) and more scrutiny. The result will no doubt be that our work will be accomplished in different ways in the future. At the ACUHO-I International Symposium pre-conference workshop earlier this summer one of our colleagues from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland shared with us that one of his residence buildings was initially built in 1680! I'm pretty confident that student affairs as a field had not yet developed 350 years ago.
What macro factors do you think our great-grandchildren will talk about when describing our work?
Image source: http://skillsfor21stcentury.wordpress.com/