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Emerging Trends Shaping the Future of Higher Education

By: Ready Education on 06-Sep-2023 10:09:02
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The world is constantly changing and the knowledge and skills we acquire today may become outdated tomorrow. The landscape of higher education is undergoing significant transformation as technological advancements, evolving student needs and societal changes continue to shape the way we teach and learn. What emerging trends can we expect to prepare students and institutions for the ever-changing workforce of the future? How is digital technology in education impacting the industry?

Educause 2023 higher education trend watch identifies three categories of changes: workforce, cultural and technological shifts. While this report focuses on 10 emerging macro trends, further research has been conducted by organisations like Anthology, Fierce Education, Cambridge University… This article sums up some of the major trends that are impacting higher ed institutions and gives some tips on how to leverage them. 

Increasing need for data security and protection 

About the trend

As cybersecurity issues increase, institutions need more workforce to fix them. However, they face challenges in recruiting staff. To help faculty, staff, administrators and students develop necessary cyber security skills and knowledge, institutional leaders are increasing their efforts in providing training and education.

One of the reasons why these cyber attacks are more frequent now is that working from home has become the new normal. Respondents to the Educause survey reported a growing need for policies focusing on data privacy and ethics and cyber security challenges that are unique to remote work environments.

A few tips 

To update your privacy and cyber security awareness, look to: 

  • Train your faculty, staff and students to prevent cyberattacks
  • Implement instrumental cyber security strategies
  • Surround yourself with a team of experts

👉 Find more details in our guide on how to overcome IT issues

Continued rise of hybrid and online learning

About the trend

Online and blended learning methods have gained momentum in recent years.  Advancements in digital technology in education and online learning have revolutionised the education landscape. Institutions are expected to increasingly offer online programmes to reach a broader range of students. 

Nevertheless, they don’t always have the right tools and resources to sustain this evolution. According to a global survey conducted by Anthology, only 26% of university leaders worldwide noted a significant increase in the number of digital learning tools utilised at their institution over the last two years. However, demand for online education grows and competition increases among degree providers. How can you keep up with rapidly advancing technology, while providing meaningful human interaction and support to students in an online environment?

A few tips

To create an inclusive learning experience that meets the rapidly evolving needs of students:

  • Embrace a learner-centred approach to promote active learning
  • Leverage digital technology in education effectively to enhance the online learning experience
  • Design accessible and inclusive online and blended courses 
  • Regularly assess and evaluate the effectiveness of digital and hybrid learning initiatives

👉 Want more information on how to improve the student experience? Download our guide on the 6 critical aspects to build the total student experience

Expansion of digital transformation 

About the trend

In a context of pressures to get more students enrolled, declining budgets and changes in students’ expectations, digital transformation is necessary for institutions to survive, improve operational efficiency, agility and institutional workforce development. According to Educause, institutions are now working on strategic plans that incorporate digital transformation to keep up with fast-paced technology changes and stakeholder buy-in.

A few tips

To lead the digital transformation of your institution, you need to: 

  • Ensure your CIO has a seat at the leadership table 
  • Put in place IT governance structures
  • Include IT leaders in the strategic planning process
  • Invest in the professional development of your IT teams

Increase in data-driven decision-making

About the trend

The Educause report shows that there is increasing awareness of the value and need for data across all functional areas of the institution. Whether it’s for recruitment, retention, student success, budgeting or business operations, leadership teams are pushing for more data-informed decision-making. To do so, some institutions are redesigning existing positions to focus on data reporting and visualisation needs. Others have started to offer their staff and students training on analytics.

A few tips

Here are some things you can do to effectively and strategically use your data:

  • Convert your data analytics into action plans
  • Use data to project where you’re heading
  • Vary your data sources for more accuracy and objectivity
  • Clearly define your objectives before analysing your data

👉 You will find more best practices in our guide Navigating the Digital Landscape: a Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming the Top IT Challenges in Higher Education”.

Need for improved data literacy and skills

About the trend

Big data and analytics are growing at a fast pace. As institutions need to strengthen their data literacy and skills, they are increasingly: 

  • Offering staff development opportunities, such as certificates on data innovation 
  • Creating new positions like 'Director of Data Analytics'
  • Including desired analytics skills in job descriptions 
  • Planning interdisciplinary courses and short-term academies related to data literacy and skills to ensure students are exposed to data science

A few tips

To upskill your teams and students, remember to: 

  • Foster a productive and supportive hybrid culture
  • Invest in remote support tools and technologies
  • Provide ongoing training to everyone 
  • Develop a broad knowledge base 

Find out more about these emerging trends and our tips to leverage them in our guide focused on IT challenges in higher education.

Download Guide