Scenarios for the Future of Student Unions


I’ve just been talking with NUS Services (the commercial arm of the National Students Union essentially) about scenario planning and we spent a few minutes (literally) speculating about future scenarios. Here’s an amalgamation of a few suggestions, which I don’t think is too far off. If I get a chance I’ll try to flesh this out a little over the next few weeks.

If you are unfamiliar with scenario planning each axis represents a critical uncertainty (a trend whose direction is unclear at this stage). In this case one axis is built around a general societal attitude while the other is built around how education (learning) and information (anything) is delivered. At the moment the dominant attitude is individualism and education/information is slowly shifting towards the digital and remote.

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6 Responses to Scenarios for the Future of Student Unions

  1. Sally says:

    Enjoyed reading your thoughts. I’m an MPA student and as part of an independent study this semester I’m doing a literature review on this very topic in preparation for my thesis. I agree with your critical uncertainties but feel that the impact of the changing demographics in the school system needs to fit in here somewhere. Did you all discuss this?

  2. Richard says:

    Yes we did. From a UK perspective ageing is the big one – more older students and less younger ones – but globalization is also a factor (more diverse student population basically).



  3. Sally says:

    I’ll definitely continue to drop in and see where this all takes you.

  4. richard says:

    BTW, my view on demographic change is that it’s a given across all scenarios. A possible tweak on the matrix – Physical/virtual plotted against individual/collective.

  5. Sally says:

    I agree that demographics would be a given across all scenarios. Have you (or are you going to) address how certain demographic elements such as ethnicity and poverty levels (or I guess in your situation older versus younger) student will change the outcomes?

    I am going to be trying to put together a scenario team sometime in late 2011 to do some research as part of my final paper for grad school. I’d like to stay in touch with you regarding your work and if you have availability possible include you in my ‘virtual’ team.


  6. richard says:

    It all depends on NUS. They may wish to dig into this or not. Good luck with things your end…


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