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Ripped from the Headlines: Leading Thinker on Education Claims Universities Headed Towards Bankruptcy

Cornerstone Editors

One of the world's leading skeptics of the value of traditional higher education also happens to be a huge proponent of Silicon Valley's hyper-speedy innovation practices. And it's not a coincidence. As more young people venture towards a start-up workplace culture (and even bypass college to do so), the "disruption" bug seems to be seeping slowly into higher education practices, suggests Harvard Business School professor and renowned author Clay Christensen. In fact, Christensen predicts that half of universities will go bankrupt in the next 15 years, generally because the entrepreneurial spirit that is taking over today's workplace (in the Valley and beyond) is transforming the way we learn today.

"Everybody else thinks that it's absolutely crazy. But I think I'll be right. I have made an observation that relates to this. It is as follows: Many of society's most important and vexing problems were created by unnamed people in the past who decided unilaterally to combine things that should be separate and to separate things that should be together," Christensen said recently in an interview with Business Insider's Henry Blodget.

Investor Peter Thiel and other big names around the Valley have also championed pushing higher education aside in favor of a more self-driven, entrepreneurial type of learning that can happen through fellowships or even with online, collaborative courses such as Coursera and Udemy. The bottom line is this: The way the next generation of employees learns could be profoundly different from the way Baby Boomers or even Millennials have in the past. Employers must adapt — through technology and other means — in order to provide new workers with continued education in the workplace. Soon, many leading thinkers agree, a diploma won't mean much.

"In the universities, we teach you what we decide you need to know. And the employers find out when they hire people that students didn't learn what we needed them to learn. Online learning offerings, like the University of Phoenix, have relationships with employers and teach what you need to know. So things that we thought were important, like having a degree, get supplanted by achievements because a degree per se doesn't mean as much," Christensen says.

Read the full interview at Business Insider

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