2017 brought many changes regarding the structure of higher education. From an influx of first generation students, to the closing of several private community colleges, it's clear that the landscape of education is shifting. Add in the proposed cut of $9 billion to the U.S. education budget as well as the adoption of a free-tuition program in New York and it becomes clear that higher ed in 2018 has the potential to look very different. Based on the industry trends we've witnessed this past year, here are some of our predictions for what's to come in 2018:
Restructuring the Institutional Ranking System
In 2018, we anticipate a shift away from simply using graduation rates and academic reputation to measure a college or university's value. Instead, rankings will begin to incorporate rates of student engagement, degrees of campus community, and levels of academic personalization. This will in-turn cause students to look at the 'student experience' when deciding where to apply.
Prioritizing the Student Experience
Next year, we foresee the student experience coming to the forefront of higher education. Instead of focusing primarily on a student's academic standing, institutions will be more concerned with what their students are getting out of higher education in terms of experiences. This list could include what extra-curricular opportunities are offered, which clubs and organizations are available, and even what learning technology the institution offers.
While 2017 brought about a wave of proposed budget cuts and increased tuition, New York responded by implementing a new free-tuition program. While not every student will qualify for this program, it is an innovative step towards reforming tuition in the U.S. Our prediction for 2018 is that more states will adopt this model, making free-tuition more accessible to a wider scope of students.
Adopting Artificial Intelligence in the Classroom
Next year we anticipate an increased number of institutions incorporating AI into student retention. By gathering information and analyzing it effectively, we will be able to personalize the education process for each individual student. What this could mean is a better understanding of what kind of information should be surfaced to students at what time, and could also be used to determine at-risk students.
Reorganizing and Restoring Greek Life
In light of recent alcohol related tragedies, several schools across the United States have made the decision to suspend Greek Life. For 2018, we predict a complete overhaul when it comes to the social side of sororities and fraternities. Whether it be checking in and out at parties, designating a minimum number of sober adults at all functions, or requiring that only licensed/certified servers be able to distribute alcohol at events, Greek Life as we know it may be a thing of the past.
Endorsing Modern LMS Platforms
Another shift we anticipate includes the increased move towards LMS platforms that connect to business intelligence platforms, or have the capability built-in. Platforms and systems that do not analyze the data they collect will become obsolete, especially within institutions that are turning to their data more and more in order to make informed decisions. This is part of the reason why we see so much interest from our partners in the READY platform's tracking and assessment system that offers support staff the qualitative and quantitative feedback they need to improve student experience.
While higher education, at times, seems to progress at a reduced pace, we believe that 2018 could mark the beginning of great change for institutions across the country.