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Higher Education Trends to Look Out For

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The onset of the recent pandemic forced colleges and universities to change the way they operated. Almost all schools and colleges shifted to some form of online instruction. Some schools even closed their campuses entirely. Many students had to leave their college towns and finish the semester at home. It was a time when health and life took precedence over education.

Although the pandemic is not yet over, the world has adjusted and found ways to move forward. Many students have returned to their campuses and are living in dorms again. However, the higher education landscape has changed.

Here are some trends bubbling under the radar that you should know about:

Increased Emphasis on Flexibility and Convenience:

In the past, most students had to uproot their lives to attend college. They would move to a new city or state, often living in dorms on campus. But now, there are more options for students. Many colleges offer online courses or a hybrid of online and in-person classes. It gives students more flexibility to choose what works best for them.

Additionally, most students have become extremely acclimated to online learning, and many prefer it to in-person instruction. According to a recent survey, 73% of students said they would like to continue taking courses online in the future. The pandemic has forced colleges to prioritize convenience and flexibility, which will likely stay.

This trend will make things easier for professionals who want to further their education but can’t turn their lives around for it. It will also be a boon for women in higher education as more mothers can attend classes without having to worry about childcare.

Decreased Affordability of College Tuition:

Higher education is becoming a very expensive industry. Many students are concerned about how much money they will have to spend. With the growth in demand and a lack of state funding, tuition and fees are steadily increasing at breakneck speed. Higher education institutions now charge more than twice as much as they were twelve years ago. In Alabama and Arizona, for example, public institutions and college tuition went up by more than 60%.

Other than that, additional costs covering boarding rooms, meals, transportation, books, and other hidden course materials have continued to increase. Online students must invest in a laptop, software, and a high-speed internet connection.

As a result of the growing costs, many students are now taking on significant debt loads. The average student loan debt in the United States is now more than $33,900

There are a few reasons for the rising cost of tuition. One is that the demand for a college education has increased. In contrast, the number of seats in colleges has stayed relatively static. The other reason is that state governments have been disinvesting in higher education, forcing colleges and universities to make a difference by charging students more.

International Student Recruitment:

The higher education market is not doing so well, either. According to different institution surveys, there has been a decline in new international admissions for two years. Despite the greater education sector’s efforts to recruit international students, graduate enrollment rates fell by 5.5 percent. There is also a 6.3 percent dip in undergraduate enrollment rates. At the same time, non-degree enrollment rates decreased by 9.7 percent.

The international education landscape is rapidly changing, and colleges are becoming more challenging to attract international students. Political instability, social media, and the rise of new technologies play a role in how international students decide where to study. Additionally, the increasing visa restrictions and the administration’s stance on immigration are making it harder for higher education institutions to attract international students. In addition to these concerns, many students have chosen not to study abroad because of COVID-19 risks of infection.

To combat this trend, many higher education institutions have begun to focus on developing innovative recruitment strategies that target international students. Colleges and universities are working to increase revenue by building and maintaining relationships with international partners, providing scholarships and financial aid, and marketing their institutions’ unique aspects.

Partnerships Between Industry and Higher Education Institutions:

The traditional model of higher education is no longer working. Colleges and universities are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing needs of the workforce. To stay relevant, many higher education institutions are partnering with industry leaders to create programs that prepare students for jobs.

For example, Google has partnered with Arizona State University to create a new online program called “Google IT Support Professional Certificate.” The six-course program is designed to teach students the basics of IT support, and it can be completed in eight to twelve months. The program is entirely online and open to anyone with a high school diploma or GED.

There are also programs enabling students to pay back their tuition fees with a percentage of their future earnings. These “income-share agreements” are becoming increasingly popular to make higher education more affordable. Revature is one such program that offers income-share agreements to students in the United States.

Focus on Building Soft Skills:

Machines have replaced the essential hard skills that were once so important. It is due to the rise of automation and artificial intelligence. For instance, computers and AI manage jobs like data entry, bookkeeping, and even some legal work. However, the human factor is still irreplaceable for jobs that require soft skills, such as empathy, communication, and problem-solving.

Many higher education institutions are now focusing on teaching students soft skills. These skills will enable them to stand out in the job market and be successful in their careers. However, the current online education landscape is not well-suited for teaching soft skills. To be effective, students need to be able to interact with their peers and instructors in a real-world setting.

It is one of the many reasons for a recent push for “active learning” in higher education. Active learning is a type of instruction that focuses on engaging students in the material. It can be done in several ways, such as through group work, simulations, and hands-on projects.

Conclusion:

The times are volatile, and the future is uncertain. We can’t be sure how long the current trends in higher education will continue. However, one thing is certain: how we learn and think about learning is changing. And it’s up to us to adapt.

What’s important to understand is that a degree is not just a piece of paper. It’s your landing pad in an increasingly competitive job market. And to be successful, you need to be adaptable and open to change.

Good luck!

 

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