Five Issues Facing Higher Education in 2018
Last year, we published the findings of a survey we conducted on the preferred indoors leisure time activities, also known under the umbrella of “staying-in” trend. As we have previously seen, one of the causes for this trend emerging is also the fact that, at global level, students have the most debt of any group of college graduates, with the smallest job market since the Great Depression.
In this context, we got in contact with the Cornerstone University team who have recently discussed around the issues facing higher education today. Clearly the staying-in trend is a direct consequence of the challenges encountered by students, such as the rising cost of education balanced against the benefit of a college degree. Combining this information with the diminishing field of well-paying job opportunities, the result is that many recent graduates are underemployed and face massive student loan debt.
With increasing costs for college, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there's also a rise in the number of students who don't complete their degrees. Although many of these students transfer and complete their education at another university, a large number never finish. Even as there is an overall rise in enrollment, completion rates have not kept pace.
In addition to this, state funding for colleges and universities has steadily decreased since the beginning of the century. This trend is nation-wide and is expected to continue. As funding for higher learning institutions decrease, universities must seek funding from private sources. Accessing private funding further triggers other issues such as universities no longer being subject to the same systems of regulation, admission and even academic requirements as rest of the public state system.
Even more, the different changes in teaching methods and curricula brings challenges. Moving away from the old-fashioned model of lectures to more interactive and self-guided approaches, universities and colleges are restructuring curricula to stay current and equip students to work with emerging technologies. But for long-established professors, new curricula and methodologies can be difficult to incorporate into their teaching practices, raising frustration.
Finally, the university has historically been an oasis of freedom of speech and freedom of expression for students and faculty alike. But the current political climate and the potential threats which have emerged put universities in a difficult place.
In conclusion, the shape of global culture and economic balances have shifted as we made our way into the 21st century. The strict divide between public and private has been blurred and new relationships between the two sectors have unfolded in response to global changes. Additionally, the cultural and political climate of the country is being challenged at some fundamental levels, and with this comes disagreement and conflict. These changes are reflected in some of the issues and challenges facing higher education as we enter 2018.
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