Thirty Years from Now the Big University Campuses Will Be Relics. Universities Won’t Survive

Peter Drucker? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous management guru Peter Drucker apparently made a provocative prediction about education:

Universities won’t survive.

Is this quotation accurate? Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1997 “Forbes” published an interview with Peter F. Drucker under the title “Seeing things as they really are” by Robert Lenzner and Stephen S. Johnson. The interviewers flew to Claremont, California and spent ten hours speaking with Drucker about the future. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Education. Now there’s a subject that interests everyone today. President Clinton says we should pump more money into the present educational establishment. Drucker says the current setup is doomed, at least so far as higher education is concerned.

“Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. It’s as large a change as when we first got the printed book.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

During the interview Drucker expressed concern about the escalating cost of education:

“Do you realize that the cost of higher education has risen as fast as the cost of health care? And for the middle-class family, college education for their children is as much of a necessity as is medical care—without it the kids have no future.

“Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable. Higher education is in deep crisis.”

Drucker suggested that video delivery could reduce costs, and obviate the need for campus buildings:

“Already we are beginning to deliver more lectures and classes off campus via satellite or two-way video at a fraction of the cost. The college won’t survive as a residential institution. Today’s buildings are hopelessly unsuited and totally unneeded.”

In 2011 an article in “The New Republic” about online education reprinted remarks of Drucker: 2

As early as the Internet mania of the late ’90s, higher education has been singled out as ripe for a technology-driven revolution. And looking back at the grandiose predictions of the time, it’s fair to say that such claims deserve a dose of skepticism. In 1997, for instance, legendary management guru Peter Drucker predicted that “Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. It’s as large a change as when we first got the printed book.” Fourteen years later, the big universities are bigger and (after a stellar year for endowment investments) richer than almost ever before.

In conclusion, Peter Drucker did deliver the quotation during an interview published in “Forbes” in 1997. The thirty year prediction runs until 2027.

(Great thanks to anonymous person whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)


  1. Website: Forbes, Article title: Seeing things as they really are, Article author: Robert Lenzner and Stephen S. Johnson, Date on website: March 10, 1997, Website description: Business news. (Accessed on September 17, 2017) link
  2. Website: New Republic, Article title: A Much-Needed Challenge to Low-Quality Universities, Article author: Kevin Carey, Date on website: November 17, 2011, Website description: Political essays, analysis, and news. (Accessed on September 17, 2017) link