Selective Universities Won’t Be Disrupted
Apr 2024

Selective Universities Won’t Be Disrupted

Just over a decade ago, Clayton Christensen and I predicted that serious challenges were coming to higher education. Thanks to a confluence of factors—unsustainable business models and cost structures, demographics, and new, low-cost college options or alternatives powered in part by online learning—roughly 25% of colleges would close or merge in the couple decades ahead.

Since then, many have suggested that we were wrong because their hasn’t been a cataclysmic cliff yet. Never mind that the real demographic “cliff” with fewer 18-year-olds—particularly in the northeast and Midwest—doesn’t begin until 2026. And never mind that there may never be a rapid “cliff” of closures but instead a steady stream of shutdowns for many years.

For some, their evidence is that the top 200 schools seem largely intact. Never mind again that we have been clear that the top schools are unlikely to be affected the trends we documented.


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