Disruption in Higher Education

Initially, disruptive innovations offer products and services that underperform existing options, create lower profits, and can be sold only in less significant markets. That describes the earliest days of Airbnb, Amazon, Netflix , Uber, Wikipedia and a slew of other low-end providers that went on to dominate their markets. — Alana Dunagan, Wall Street Journal

Purdue University — a public higher education institution — will be buying Kaplan University — a private, online, for-profit school. According to Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue, three things are changing in higher ed that Purdue needs to keep up with:

  • Millions of potential students are unserved by the current higher education system.
  • Online education is growing.
  • Purdue can’t build online capabilities, so it should buy them.

With the student debt crisis mounting and traditional higher education’s value in question, it’s clear that the time is right for innovation in the university system. The challenge for Purdue will be convincing its stakeholders — especially more traditional faculty and alumni — that this is its future.

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