US Higher Education confronted with Integral Challenges

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US Higher Education confronted with Integral Challenges

The number of college students enrolled in the US steadily declined each year between 2011 and 2016, and most institutions failed to meet their revenue or enrollment goals for 2016.

There is wavering confidence in the financial stability of colleges and universities in the near future. According to an Inside Higher Ed/Gallup survey, 71% of chief business officers at tertiary institutions pointed out that media reports suggesting higher education being in the midst of a financial crisis is an accurate depiction of the general financial landscape of US higher education.

Concerns about higher education’s financial stability could be a reflection of a supply over demand scenario, especially when there is no consistent increase in quality; which has been clearly demonstrated in the recent college enrollment figures. The number of college students enrolled in the US has steadily declined each year between 2011 and 2016, and most institutions failed to meet their revenue or enrollment goals for 2016. This could also suggest a peak in the current higher education model. Therefore, higher education will now have to amend their recruitment plans that focus on helping students successfully transition from university to the workforce.

Therefore, to rectify the above challenges, institutions will have to make evident of their value to key stakeholders by offering programmes of increased relevance to the workforce and rebrand the liberal arts education.

Making evident of an institution’s value to key stakeholders by offering programmes of increased relevance to the workforce

According to an Inside Higher Ed/Gallup study, 83% of university academic officers and provosts reveal that their institutions are making it their priority to help students transit successfully to the workforce. Gallup’s research among university graduates illustrates that an approach to help graduates in this transition is to place focus on work-integrated learning during college. Graduates with work-integrated learning during college are more likely to value their degree after graduation.

Among recent graduates, almost half (47%) of those who are in jobs completely related to their undergraduate studies strongly agree that their education were worth the cost, compared with 29% of those in jobs where the work are not at all related to their undergraduate studies.

Increasing students’ exposure to work-integrated learning can also help them to make better informed decisions due to a broadening of information.

Rebranding of liberal arts education

Negative perceptions about the liberal arts education and its job prospects are believed to be the reason behind prospective students having a misconception about its value. According to an Inside Higher Ed/Gallup study, less than one in 10 college admissions directors and senior enrollment managers believe that prospective students understand the value of a liberal arts education.

On the contrary, liberal arts education is in fact valuable and fundamental to the current job market as it teaches skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, collaboration and teamwork.

Source: Gallup

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