Facing years of declining enrollment and financial pressures, U.S. colleges and universities are increasingly embracing technological innovation, career-based programs and business partnerships, according to a new survey commissioned by higher education software and services company Jenzabar.
the investigation, Innovation creates more flexible pathways for higher educationbased on responses to an online survey conducted in August and September 2022 from 145 higher education administrations, most of whom hold campus leadership positions such as president, vice president, or dean.
The survey included multiple-choice questions on technology spending plans for the year ahead, skills-based course choices, and partnerships with local businesses.
Nearly half (45%) of respondents said their enrollment has declined over the past year, and according to other sources, officials in many states have observed particularly sharp declines in the percentage of high school graduates entering college. Here are some highlights from respondents who said they were grappling with the challenge.
Regardless of whether school enrollment is up or down, most schools increased spending on technology last year, and most plan to increase technology spending again in the coming year
- Over half (51%) of respondents have increased infrastructure/technology spending over the past year.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) expect to increase spending on technology in the 2023-2024 school year.
A major purpose of the increase in technology spending is to increase flexible curriculum pathways related to skills acquisition and career preparation. An important advantage of enhanced technology is that it allows institutions to deliver new courses faster, especially for non-traditional students.
More flexible courses and certificates
- Nearly two-thirds (62%) of institutions offer or plan to offer non-credit courses.
- More than half (52%) offer or plan to offer non-credit certificate programs.
- Sixty percent of these schools offer or plan to offer stackable degrees.
Most colleges and universities are partnering with local businesses to provide students with more flexible study opportunities. More than half (53%) of surveyed organizations partner with local businesses to provide much-needed skills training or workforce training.
The surveyed institutions that cooperate with local businesses (as opposed to those that do not) are:
- Almost twice as likely to offer or plan to offer non-credit courses (71% vs. 40%).
- Almost twice as likely to offer or plan to offer a non-credit certificate program (63% vs. 34%).
- More than twice as likely to offer or plan to offer micro-credentials (51% vs. 24%).
- Almost twice as likely to offer or plan to offer stackable degrees (66% vs. 37%).
- More likely to invest in technology (67% vs. 61%).
“We are not surprised to see that institutions that partner with local businesses are more likely to offer alternative educational pathways. These institutions are connected to their communities. They listen to students, they listen to local employers, and will create better opportunities for students Inclusive educational opportunities are their own responsibility,” said Ling Chai, Jenzabar President, Founder and CEO.
Institutions are stepping up their search for new revenue streams as college enrollment continues to decline. According to a recent report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), total higher education enrolments (both undergraduate and graduate) in spring 2022 will decrease by 4.1% compared to spring 2021, equivalent to approximately 685,000 students student.
In addition to a 3.5% drop in spring 2021, the overall two-year decline in college enrollment since spring 2020 has reached 7.4%, or nearly 1.3 million students, putting the worst of the pandemic-era drop in enrollment over. hope is dashed. Instead, there are growing concerns that other factors—such as doubts about the value of college—may hold students back.
It remains to be seen whether the strategies documented in the Jenzabar survey will help turn around enrolments, but they dovetail well with employers’ continued investment in worker education and skills training.
As Jenzabar’s Chai puts it, “Higher education is facing enormous pressure to change. Students need to see a stronger connection between their education and career paths. Many students are eager for other learning opportunities. Information agencies can take advantage of them, surveys show Come chart the path for the future – Jenzabar wants to help. We provide institutions with new ways to engage today’s students, We hope our collaboration with institutions will provide learners with the educational and life skills they need to help them bridge the education/employment gap, and unleash their full potential. “