Chapter 9

Alternative Scenarios for European Higher Education

Michelle van Geffen, Magda Niewczas and Marta Bukowska


The chapter focuses on Innovation in the Higher Education (HE) system within Europe and how the future of this ‘system’ might look if European society follows certain trajectories. We speak as recent graduates of this system having just completed our Masters year (2012). This chapter brings to our reflections a sense of personal exploration, as the futures we consider will impact directly on our lives. Future scenarios are used to unpack higher education futures in Europe and to consider a range of possible alternatives to the dominant model currently framing the higher education debate. As HE change is an issue of real importance to us, we admit to desiring more flexible and open ended learning systems in HE. A futures approach to this topic is chosen since it provides the depth and rigor needed to facilitate insights and alternatives in organisational/systems change. The chapter starts with an outline of the processes and methods employed both in recognizing the main drivers as well as scenario building. The main framework adopted is the Six Pillars framework by Sohail Inayatullah (2008). From the analysis preformed, four scenarios are defined: the auto- factory, the castle, the fancy salad bar, and the central park. These four scenarios illustrate the analysis and dynamics of the drivers in potential futures. The Central Park scenario represents our clear preferred future. The HE system within this scenario requires more engagement from students and at the same time empowers them to create their own curriculums within the context of an inclusive society. The conclusion builds on the findings of the futures analysis and offers suggestions for a productive way forward.

Total Pages: 162-182 (21)

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