The Transition of Higher Education for Continuous Lifelong Learning: Expert Views on the Need for a new Infrastructure




Higher education reform, Lifelong learning, Inclusive education, Technology enhanced learning, Knowledge translation, Delphi Method


In the contemporary need for continuous upskilling and reskilling, higher education has an important role to play. While the traditional university programmes are designed for students in their early twenties our knowledge society has a demand for lifelong learning in a wider age span. This paper is a part of a Delphi study on the ongoing transformation of higher education for lifelong learning. A qualitative Delphi study has been carried out in the four steps of 1) A literature study to explore the chosen topic, with the selected publications sent out to an expert panel, 2) A survey with questions to the experts based on the findings in the literature study, 3) Email interviews to dig deeper into the answers from the survey, and finally 4) Focus group interviews. The aim of the paper is to analyse, present and discuss the international expert panels' views on the infrastructural needs in the transformation of higher education. Data gathered from the three first steps, with a focus on the email interviews, have been analysed according to the Grounded Theory concepts of open, axial coding and confirmatory coding. The categories from the Open coding analysis were later, in the axial coding, grouped around the central axis of 'Higher education transformation for lifelong learning'. The confirmatory coding found the common denominator of 'Infrastructure', and its interrelationships with the attributes of 'Multimodal delivery', 'Pedagogical change', 'Quality and organisation', 'Equity, diversity and inclusion', 'Digital literacy', 'Accessibility', and 'Financial aspects'. Findings align to the Anna Karenina principle in the sense that a happy and healthy infrastructure for continuous lifelong learning in higher education, depends on all the attributes listed above. This leads to the Tolstoyan conclusion that every variation of failing attributes would result in its own state of unhappiness.