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Higher education is at a crossroads. The sector either continues down the traditional path leading to decreased perceived value, revenue and enrollment over time or embrace a "relevance renaissance" and make the changes necessary to reverse public perception and downward trends.
Since 1990, tuition for higher education has increased by nearly 400%. At the beginning of 2019, student loan debt in America totaled a whopping $1.6 trillion. These numbers are concerning because the median earnings for those who hold a bachelor's degree in the US are below 1990 levels. And the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is higher than the overall employment rate for the first time in 40 years .
The high costs and low rewards are starting to affect public perception of the value of higher education, causing consumers to increasingly turn to alternatives to traditional higher education degrees to achieve job preparedness. Compounding this financial value concern, the educational value is also coming into question. Only "13% of US adults, 11% of C-suite business executives and 4% of colleges' and universities' trustees have strong confidence in the work-readiness of graduates. Equally worrisome, only 26% of US adults with college experience strongly agree their education is relevant to their work and day-to-day lives" . Higher education is starting to be viewed as just a punch card for higher-paying positions to show commitment and the capability to do work rather than a valuable and practical skill-building investment. This is a critical perception issue that must be addressed in a university's "relevance renaissance" transformation because historically, the number one reason Americans value higher education is to "get a good job" .
This perception issue is not one to take lightly. Since 2015, confidence in higher education has dropped 9%. Out of context, this may not seem shocking; however, according to the analytics company Gallup, this is the largest drop in confidence across all measured institutions. Gallup also reported that there was nearly a 50% drop in the "importance of college" among young adults in the same time period. And high school students, which make up the majority of the higher education enrollment pipeline, report that only 7% are confident that colleges in the US are the best in the world .
The lack of perceived value based on cost, paired with the lack of confidence in higher education to properly educate students to prepare them for the workforce, is already taking its toll on enrollment. This is bad news for the higher education sector, especially because a crash is now predicted in 2025, which projects enrollments to plummet by over 15%. This drop in enrollment will likely financially cripple many universities and result in the closure of numerous long-standing institutions .
The solution to these problems lies in a "relevance renaissance" in higher education. Higher education must break from the rigidity of the traditional degree-only mindset and offer more accessible and valuable bite-sized courses to cater to a broader audience. Demand for non-degree paths, certificate programs, and micro-courses is booming. This is an area that universities should capitalize on immediately. Universities must leverage growth and scale to create higher quality courses rather than diluted content. With the increased revenue from alternative course offerings, reinvestment into high-quality educational experiences is paramount. And to truly embrace the relevance aspect of this transformation, higher education must make serious efforts to connect to the industries to which they primarily provide an employment funnel and meet their educational needs. Universities must offer courses designed to upskill adults seeking professional development and provide current students with applicable skills for rapidly advancing industries that prepare them for a job upon graduation. This requires lots of flexibility, an infrastructure capable of swift adaptation to changing needs, and a finger on the pulse of burgeoning industries to identify current and future in-demand skills. This may seem like a difficult task to accomplish, but it is easier than it sounds.
How Can Your University Support Your Relevance Renaissance Transformation Easily and Quickly?
The answer to higher education's problem is to invest in a robust online learning platform. An online learning platform can provide the flexibility and accessibility needed to provide a larger audience with highly valuable educational experiences. To establish a scalable platform capable of supporting multiple revenue streams, like certificate programs, micro courses, summer camps for high school students, and traditional degree paths, universities should partner with a SaaS company specializing in building and maintaining online learning platforms.
When searching for a partner, look for an online learning platform with these key features:
If your university embraces the "relevance renaissance," it will result in higher enrollment rates, increased revenue, and solve the main issue by increasing the educational value of your institution.
Amesite Offers a Single, Easy to Use, Scalable Solution
Launch an online learning platform to improve public perception, revenue, and enrollment!
Amesite delivers a high-tech AI-enabled online learning platform, creates scalable, custom-branded learning environments, and curates content using experts in the industry that follow best practices, meeting your university's unique needs. A host of self-paced, highly engaging, and intuitive courses can be ready for your university in as little as 30 days.
Amesite can provide your university with numerous revenue streams using turnkey, intuitive micro-credentials, summer camps, and alumni upskilling programs, as well as traditional online course curriculums. All of which require no training to use and allow your university to take full advantage of the immediate needs that these programs satisfy. Amesite is a budget-conscious choice because the is no investment in IT staff or training required to use the platform.
Amesite's system uses established social media formats to help learners access the content in a familiar setting. These mechanisms streamline the learning process. Amesite's platform also gives users the experience of learning with a community, a valuable addition to the online education experience. Engaging features like video chat and live streaming connect instructors and other students virtually to enhance and solidify learning. Amesite has an outstanding and industry-leading 98% retention rate.
A partnership with Amesite is an investment into your university's future. Request a Demo!
[1-5] The Economist. March 4, 2020. The coming “relevance renaissance” in higher education. https://eiuperspectives.economist.com/talent-education/coming-relevance-renaissance-higher-education#:~:text=It's%20time%20for%20a%20relevance%20renaissance%20in%20US%20higher%20education.&text=Higher%20education%20needs%20to%20pursue,increase%20financial%20aid%20for%20students. Accessed May 27, 2021.