What will the university of the future look like? Will it be an online forum, with hundreds of separate discussion threads? A place where thousands of students virtually meet their lecturers to be educated in how knowledge can be transformed into skills and skills into work experience and employment?
I can accept that my vision of the future is a little off the mark, better make that way off the mark, but there's no denying that for many, the time has come to think of alternatives to higher education as we know it. And the way students will be learning is just one area that needs to addressed.
Our blogger Tamson Pietsch quoted Peter Rathjen, VC of the University of Tasmania, as saying: "I'm not convinced that 40% of students are necessarily going to benefit from an education that was [originally designed] for a very small number of people. There might be a different kind of education they might benefit from."
Supporting that point, Mike Baker of the BBC said: "The conventional image of today, which is still fondly perpetuated in the media, is already as antiquated as college scarves and sherry with the tutor. The 18-year-old school leaver, living on campus, studying full-time for a purely academic, three-year undergraduate degree is fast becoming a minority species."
It is undeniable that the higher education sector the world over is in a state of flux: institutions are oversubscribed, many lament the 'marketisation of HE', there are increasingly louder calls to widen access and for universities to develop closer links with schools, industry and their local communities. And we haven't even touched on the internationalisation agenda, influencing policy, smaller funding pots, the potential of technology and social media or the need to prove research impact.
But if all these issues are a refiner's fire, what will higher education look like when universities come out at the other end? What will HEIs look like in 2020?
On Friday 11 November, from 12pm to 2pm GMT, our live chat will attempt to conceptualise the university of the future. As it's such as huge issue, we're going to split the discussion up into 20 minute slots for our panel and contributors to dissect five themes, then leaving 20 minutes at the end for open debate. The five thematic areas are:
• Finance and funding
• Distinctiveness and specialisation
• Student experience and widening participation
• Professional development and leadership
What is your vision for the university of the future and what would need to be done to get us there? Join us online on Friday, follow tweets on the #HElivechat hashtag or post a comment now.