A Publication of WTVP

Higher education is evolving with the economy and changing needs of today’s students.

Over the past five years, higher education has been affected by the decline in the economy and reductions in funding. Institutions across the nation have been forced to adapt. Students of all ages are now taking a second look at their options to further their education. Specifically, working adults are heading back to school to finish their degrees and open up new options within their current careers. However, the Great Recession has created new difficulties for these students. While many firms are still paying for training and professional development, significant cuts have been made to employee tuition reimbursement programs.

Evolution of Delivery

Delivery of higher education has evolved to meet the changing needs of students and the workforce. The growing number of non-traditional learners demands that education be available in a manner that suits the many demands on their lives. These students require academic programs available in a traditional on-campus environment and online, so students can access learning at a time that fits their needs.

Additionally, higher education institutions have changed the way programmatic material is delivered. Students are learning and processing information differently. It’s important to remember that the members of Generation Y now range from 18 to 35 years old. Non-traditional students make up a good portion of this generation. They grew up with the Web and electronic devices in hand. Needless to say, the time has passed when students sat and listened to lectures for three hours.

Because of these changes, today’s professors are working to be more creative in delivering content to students. Professors “chunk” their courses by dividing content into smaller segments. Chunking ultimately breaks up the course content by providing various activities and accommodating different learning styles. For example, instructors are utilizing YouTube to deliver program material to students in a more interesting and captivating way.

The changing needs of the workforce require that educational programs evolve as well. Academic programs must be built on fundamentals, but tailored to the needs of the workforce. Institutions of higher learning need to continually seek to align the knowledge and skills of today’s graduate with tomorrow’s careers. Those institutions that seek to adapt must be committed to partnering with industry and creating new pathways for students to fill the ever-evolving needs of business.

Bouncing Back

Higher education institutions are changing and adapting as our economy begins to climb over the next five years. Colleges and universities worldwide are keeping up with current trends and fitting the needs of the new types of learners. While the industry remains ever-changing, colleges with a rich history and firm strategy of meeting workforce and student needs with relevant programs will weather any storm. iBi

Meredith Bunch is the president and CEO of Midstate College in Peoria, Illinois.