Trends in Higher Education

September 12, 2022 Watermark Insights

Higher education gives people the skills they need to secure the right opportunity and start building their future in the competitive job market. Statistics support the notion that higher education has a significant impact on people's employment prospects, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the 2021 unemployment rate was only 3.7% among college graduates. For high school graduates, unemployment is significantly higher at a rate of 6.7%.

Today, a new job market is emerging in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for more flexible academic options and skill-based education. As the higher education landscape continues to transform, administrators must pay attention to global trends in higher education for 2022 and beyond.

1. Online Education

Online learning remains a fast-growing area of higher education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more than 7.3 million enrolled college students participated in distance education courses during 2019.

The online learning shift is expected to continue with in-person classes continuing to pose health risks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To deal with this shift, higher education institutions must take steps to make themselves as digitally accessible as possible, such as optimizing their websites to be more mobile-friendly and provide an enhanced user experience overall.

What's more, increased online learning means students are not as restricted to attending a college or university in their specific geography. Higher education institutions can reach more students by increasing their online presence and making courses and faculty more easily searchable.

2. Technological Growth

As online learning continues to grow and higher education institutions seek new ways to engage remote learning students, there are several trends in higher education technology to pay attention to.

For example, virtual reality (VR) is expected to become more prevalent in online education, as it can provide an immersive experience for distance learners. On the faculty side, artificial intelligence (AI) programs like automated grading systems and AI teaching assistants can help streamline professors' workloads.

3. Shifting Student Demographics

The changing higher education landscape has also led to shifting student demographics. Notably, the rise of online courses has attracted more nontraditional students who need the flexibility to balance their education with working and caring for their families.

In addition to nontraditional students, younger students make up a significant portion of student populations on college campuses. The NCES projects that the number of students under age 25 will increase by 5% between 2018 and 2029.

4. Increase in Capital Campaigns

Higher education funding is an uncertain landscape in the United States. Most states have seen revenue decline throughout the pandemic, prompting them to cut higher education budgets. The promise of more federal aid has improved the higher education funding outlook. Still, the deep budget cuts from the past several years have left many higher education budgets in crisis.

Education administrators have focused on capital campaigns targeted at private donors to raise money to make up for decreased funding. What's more, higher education institutions are increasingly seeking out employees with the skill sets to launch capital campaigns and other fundraising efforts.

5. Data-Driven Decision Making

Higher education institutions are increasingly relying on data analytics for their strategic decision-making. Analytics allow education leaders to gain valuable insights from student and faculty feedback that goes beyond basic reporting. They can then use these insights to make more informed decisions and successfully navigate the evolving higher education landscape.

6. Competency-Based Education

Higher education institutions are also redefining student success. Many colleges and universities are moving away from relying on traditional exams to measure student progress and are instead focusing on student career readiness through competency-based learning. This approach can be especially beneficial to improving completion rates for nontraditional learners.

Approximately 47% of higher education institutions surveyed by the American Institutes for Research reported being in the process of adopting competency-based education programs. That number is expected to increase over the next five years.

These programs focus on soft skills over technical degrees. With employers increasingly looking for candidates with soft skills, many students seek out competency-based education programs to give themselves a competitive edge.

7. Learning Management Systems

s higher education institutions incorporate more technology into their courses, they also need to harness technology to keep their operations running smoothly.

A learning management system (LMS) is a software program for administering, documenting, tracking, automating, and reporting on your institution's educational programs. This tool makes it easier to develop and distribute course content, track student progress, and report on course quality and student outcomes for accreditation.

8. MicroMasters Programs

MicroMasters programs are an extension of online learning and competency-based education. They are graduate-level courses offered at top universities and available exclusively online. These programs are generally equivalent to shorter master's degree programs geared to specific studies and career areas. They may be self-paced or instructor-led, depending on the institution.

MicroMasters programs are career-focused and recognized by many top companies. Several colleges and universities already have MicroMasters programs in place: Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Georgia Tech, and the University of Pennsylvania.

9. Popular College Degree Programs

As the job market changes, so do popular college degree programs. According to the United States Department of Education, the top factors affecting students' college course choices include potential job placement and course quality. Some of the most popular college majors include:

  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Biomedical sciences
  • Computer science
  • Engineering

How Watermark Software Can Help Higher Education Institutions Stay on Top of Trends

At Watermark, our software solutions give institutions the tools and insights they need to stay ahead of current and future trends in higher education. Our programs simplify data collecting and reporting, helping you identify trends and make more informed decisions that drive student engagement and success.

We streamline data collecting and reporting to help you gain insights more quickly and make meaningful campus improvements. What's more, our software integrates with all major LMS, ensuring information flows seamlessly and accurately to and from your LMS.

Our higher education software platforms include:

Using our software can help your institution save time and money on administrative tasks and reporting while also helping you adjust more quickly to higher education trends and stay ahead of the competition.

Request a Software Demo Today

Reach out to us today to schedule a software demo and see our solutions in action. We'll walk you through the different program features and help you determine the best solutions for your institution's unique needs.

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