Response by Amrit Ahluwalia, director of strategic insights, Modern Campus.
I’ve had conversations with hundreds of provosts and senior administrators at colleges and universities across North America, and around the world, all reflecting on how the industry is evolving, how student needs are changing, and how institutions are adapting to keep pace with those shifts. While many institutional leaders try to reflect on whether changes are flashes in the pan or meaningful disruption, the fact is that higher education has been on a consistent trajectory to make education increasingly modular and to make the student experience increasingly flexible and learner centric.
Promising: Better Student Engagement
We’re seeing colleges and universities invest in technologies built to support the learner in ways they haven’t before: Platforms built with the specific goal of engaging learners. Technologies that give learners direct pathways to success with clear career outcomes, that personalize the online experience or even simplify things like registration—these digital assets take the modern student from a ‘learner to earner’ in the most personalized and efficient path possible. The fact is that students enroll in higher education to get a job—58% of freshmen say this is their primary motivator for enrolling—and the industry is elevating to support those needs.
Technologies that put the student engagement and experience first—that support the ‘learner-to-earner’ journey—must become the norm in higher education. The modern learner is savvy, they have alternatives to the traditional path to higher education and therefore colleges and universities must adapt to the needs of the modern learner. We saw this during the pandemic: while freshman enrollment in higher education dropped 13% industry-wide, bootcamp enrollment grew 30%. The many alternatives to higher education keep pushing the status quo in how we serve modern learners.