Is unbundling higher ed's next big disruption?

Dive Brief:

  • Ryan Craig, author of "College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education," expects traditional degree programs won’t survive in the long-term at all but the most elite institutions.
  • Campus Technology reports the evidence that the higher education market is getting closer to Craig’s prediction includes the rise of coding bootcamps, nanodegrees, and companies’ removal of academic qualifications from their job criteria.  
  • Craig expects LinkedIn will become central to a competency marketplace of sorts, where employers can verify skills of prospective employees and adults can tailor their education plans to their career needs.

Dive Insight:

MIT is among the universities unbundling traditional programs to offer students more flexible options. It announced a Micromaster’s credential in supply chain management to students who take the first half in MOOC format and then attend the final semester of the program on campus. As the concept of unbundling becomes more popular with students, it will surely become more common on all types of campuses.

The idea that unbundling will spell the death of four-year programs, however, overlooks the millions of students who go on to higher education for more than job training  and the widely held belief that this is important for our society. A broad, liberal education that prepares students for a lifetime of jobs has gotten short shrift as the conversation around the value of higher education has centered increasingly on graduate earnings and job placement data. This is something at least a segment of higher ed leaders will need to counter as Congress considers reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and new accountability measures for colleges and universities.

Recommended Reading

Campus Technology: Will unbundling kill higher education as we know it?