Education In Focus Magazine

Future Campus: what will your campus look like in 2040?

Words: Jan Michielsen, SURF

What could the campus look like in 2040 to fit in well with rapidly changing education? That’s what we are going to investigate at SURF. Do you have any ideas about the campus of the future? Then we would love to hear from you.

From chalkboard to digiboard

Surprisingly enough, the campus actually still looks the same as forty years ago: lecture halls, rooms for work seminars and so on. And with roughly the same furnishings, although of course the chalkboard has been replaced by a digiboard.

Education is changing fast

But education is changing fast: we increasingly need flexible, personalised teaching. Since COVID-19, distance learning has become more important, although of course we want to maintain the connection between student and teacher. New technologies such as VR and AR are being used more and more. Digitalisation in education can no longer be separated from physical space. And that is going to influence how we use the campus.

Project Future Campus: how does the campus move along?

So, the campus has to move with all these technological and social trends. In the Future Campus project, SURF investigates how the campus should change along with them. To this end, we ask questions such as: what might the campus look like in 2040? What do we do online and what do we do on location? And what will those environments look like?

Futuring: thinking about the future in a structured way

In doing so, we do not indulge in imagining futuristic futures like The Matrix or Back to the Future. We tackle this through the futuring method.

Project leader Iris Huis in ‘t Veld explains: “In futuring, we think about the future in a structured way and look at what we need to change in the here and now to prepare for that future.”

Developing scenarios

Specifically, SURF will work with people and with education and research organisations in order to develop scenarios for what the campus might look like in 2040. Such a scenario is not a concrete roadmap, but a palette of facilities you might need on the campus of the future.

Iris: “Suppose we arrive at a high-tech scenario in which education is largely provided online in a metaverse. That will affect the layout of your campus, which you can already take into account now.”

Will you share your thoughts on the future of the campus?

Those scenarios are not there yet. We are still in the exploratory phase, where we mainly gather information. SURF is therefore very curious whether there are already similar initiatives in Europe. Are you already reflecting on the campus of the future? Or would you like to contribute to the Future Campus project? If so, we would like to get in touch with you, as international input is very welcome.

Contact Iris Huis in ‘t Veld, Future Campus project leader, at Or visit

This article is featured on CONNECT43! Read or download the full magazine here
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