Higher Education Trends to Watch for in 2023

May 25, 2023 Watermark Insights

Higher Education Trends to Watch for in 2023

Higher education institutions face challenges in 2023, which also bring opportunities to enhance the student experience. The education trends we see require institutions to create a safe, inclusive, and nurturing student environment. Advances in technology are also launching the classroom experience into a new age. 

Practical higher education choices are now top of mind for students. History and status are no longer big drawing cards, and students seek institutions that prepare them for work. They want to know the value that an institution adds to their career. 

These education trends have begun to shape the trajectory of teaching and learning and will shape the school year for 2023. Equipped with these insights, higher education institutions can plan and implement the necessary changes for a successful year.

Social Trends to Watch

Social trends in higher education focus on creating an inclusive environment for students. Great emphasis is also placed on student mental health and well-being as institutions prioritize student support. 

Student Mental Health and Well-Being

Higher education institutions are prioritizing student mental health more than ever. Over 60% of students met the criteria of having one mental health problem during the 2021-2022 school year. Higher education institutions take students' mental health challenges seriously by breaking stigmas and stereotypes. 

Students also need practical support and the skills to deal with the stress they experience. From the beginning of orientation, institutions give students information on counseling services and the support available to them. Support staff must listen to the needs of students and implement them. Students often feel that their feedback is not recognized. By intuitively listening to and understanding students, higher education institutions can create an inclusive environment that truly speaks to their needs. 

Practical steps that institutions can take include: 

  • Telehealthcare to give students greater access to care.
  • Panel discussions.
  • Free mental health screenings.
  • Conversations on how to improve campus mental health.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging 

Diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and belonging are essential to creating an inclusive student environment. The demographic makeup of institutions has never been as diverse as it is now. Institutions must be safe spaces for students who are underrepresented and underserved. To break the limits of diversification, it's essential that all staff be involved. 

While having meaningful conversations is a good starting point, to genuinely know whether students feel free to be themselves, you need to measure the results. Intentional steps such as examining data and engaging in meaningful conversations with students can enable support staff to measure the progress of inclusivity, close opportunity gaps, and create a safe space for all students. 

Technology Trends to Watch

Technology trends in education are changing and enhancing how students learn. Institutions can implement new technology and use these trends to improve the classroom environment and motivate students.

Technology Trends to Watch

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the methods of higher education institutions and improving students' access to quality education. Since institutions introduced artificial intelligence into their systems, it has changed classrooms and helped to automate and streamline workflows. 

Higher education institutions use AI in classrooms for these purposes: 

  • Virtual assistants: Using virtual assistant technology helps both students and lecturers with time efficiency and managing workloads and assignments. 
  • Tutoring systems: AI transforms tutoring into a rich, personalized student learning experience. 
  • Remote and online learning: When powered by AI, institutions can modify remote and online learning to match students' learning needs and pace. 
  • Translation and language: In educational settings of diverse students who speak various languages, AI helps with translation. 

AI is also changing the landscape of higher education processes. Many institutions have already begun implementing AI to carry out academic and admin tasks, enhance enrollment, and improve IT systems. When introduced in a way that puts students at the forefront, AI has the potential to close inequality gaps and provide global access to education for underprivileged students. 

Virtual Reality 

Virtual reality (VR) has changed and enhanced the learning experience in higher education. Imagine experiencing the events of history through your own eyes. VR allows students the opportunity for experiences they couldn't have in a traditional classroom environment. For example, virtual reality in medical training allows institutions to train students to perform surgery and even enables nurses to experience giving patients emergency care. Through VR learning, students are experiencing:

  • Greater engagement and motivation.
  • Learning in context and through exploration.
  • Access to experiential learning opportunities.

Curriculum Trends to Watch

Students are investing wisely in their education. Trends in graduate education show there is a higher emphasis on holistic education. Students seek higher education that prepares them for professional success. 

Balancing Technical and Soft Skills

Gone are the days when having a degree and technical skills were all potential employers wanted. Soft skills increase employability and enable students to adapt to a working environment and work well with others. Outside of being beneficial in the workplace, these skills set students up to live successful and responsible lives. Employers are looking for candidates who possess attributes such as: 

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Work ethic
  • A growth mindset
  • Positive attitude
  • Adaptability
  • Clear communication
  • Team orientation
  • Time management 
  • Active listening
  • Leadership

When employers consider a candidate for a role, they want to know whether the person is dependable. Do they have integrity? Are they empathetic? Do they value growth and development? Are they able to work well with others? 

Higher education institutions are branching off from traditional lecture approaches and introducing soft skills training for students. This training can be as simple as posting videos and other material on the institution's website. More interactive techniques include tutoring and coaching. In the classroom, lectures must take learning approaches that enable students to develop soft skills. Teaching methods must take on a holistic, problem-solving, student-centered approach that includes activities such as teamwork, case studies, projects, and student presentations.

Career Readiness 

Higher education is a significant investment for students. They want to know that the money they spend gaining their education will pay off with a job offer. While prestige may have been a pull factor for many students, this is changing. Students are now asking what value higher education institutions add to their career development. Institutions need to show students what value they add and be able to back up their claims with data. Questions that students are asking when choosing a higher institute are: 

  • Does the institute offer the best program for the field they are pursuing?
  • Is there a good return on investment? 
  • Does the institute offer real work training? 
  • Will the institute provide connections for internships?

If there are areas of improvement, it's essential to address them to become an attractive, practical option for students. 

Keep Up With Higher Education Trends

The higher education landscape is changing. Watermark allows higher education institutions like yours to remain relevant with solutions like Watermark Student Success & Engagement. We can help you gain valuable insights into your student's experiences, support underrepresented students, and improve student retention.

Learn more about how our solutions can serve the needs of your institution, and then book a demo to see our solutions in action. 

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