This is a conceptual paper that examines the origin and development of universities and their current role in global society. There has been an unprecedented and exponential growth of technology and artificial intelligence capabilities over the past ten years which is challenging current working practices and affecting all areas of society. The paper examines how this role may change to match the new demands placed on them by a digitally enabled society that has greater leisure time. The design of the paper is first to detail some of the changes in work practices that are taking place and how these will impact on society. It then offers several ways in which universities could modify their role to respond to these emerging challenges. This could include new courses, new organisational structures and new pedagogical practices. The paper provides a platform for discussion and debate around the strategic vision and direction of travel for higher education.