In the last decade of the 21st century, young people under the age of 25, represent a significant portion of more than 40% of the world population and more than 25% of the total working age population. The current generation of young adults is very different from that of their parents: better educated, more diverse and with a different set of moral, social and economic values. There are over 1.8 billion young people under the age of 25 in the world today, 90% of these young people live in developing countries. In 2019, there were about 1.2 billion youth aged 15–24 years in the world, or 18% per cent of the global population. The global youth population demand free access to education at all levels, learning useful skills, good health, employment and gender equality. Young people can be a positive force for progressive development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities. Meanwhile, demand for higher education has exploded in recent decades. it is estimated that the number of tertiary education enrolment expected to be 214 million (2015) and in the next 25 years to approach 600 million (2040). The USA was the first country that experienced massification of higher education. Students increased from 1.5 million (1940) to more than 30 million in 2020. Similarly, European countries after 1945 witnessed an explosive growth of enrolment in universities with total from 2.3 million (1950) to 6.3 million in 1965. Also, higher education in China is in a massification stage. China in 2020 had 33 million undergraduate students enrolled in public colleges and universities (18.3 million studying for BSc, and 14.6 million students in more practically oriented university level short-cycle degree programmes). Also, Globalization accelerated the impact of expansion, role and educational structure of tertiary education institutions. Educational standards, research and development (R&D) and contributions to the real economy by universities have begun to change as well. International students (approx. 8 million) increased substantially beyond national borders, coordinating and standardizing university degrees and calendars, and collaborating both in research and in teaching practices. In the last decade educational experts agree that higher education institutions need to demonstrate innovative and challenging learning outcomes with new methodological approaches that provide useful technological and digital skills to their graduates. Some universities are starting to embrace innovative teaching methods that rely on the science of learning. Human brains do not learn only by only listening to lectures. Real learning relies on principles such as spaced learning, emotional learning, and the application of knowledge. Higher academic institutions are facing new challenges in providing interesting education standards and occupational skills in a digital era with advanced robotic engineering, artificial intelligence and internet of things. This review examines challenges and problems facing higher education institutions worldwide with particular emphasis in developing countries.