Survey: US Higher Education System to Face Dynamic Challenges

Deemed as the strongest hub for higher education in the world, the United States education system is facing new dynamics that it must deal with, in order to walk hand-in-hand with success. The situation has already left many US higher education leaders pondering about their ability to deal with the environment and the way out of the problem.

However, experts believe that many schools will still end up coping with the required changes, if they adapt to new methods of meeting students’ needs.
Last month, the American Council on Education carried out a survey of nearly 500 leaders at four-year, non-profit colleges and universities. The study was a joint effort with the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Huron Consulting Group.

In the survey, schools were asked about what they thought would be the biggest concern their institutions would face over the next three to five years. They were also questioned about how well do they think their college can deal with the issues.

The results that were purely based on reviews, revealed six major concerns that almost everyone thought would be important for the US higher education system in the coming years. Of the sample size taken, about 62 per cent noted that the biggest challenge would be increasing competition with other educational institutions. Secondly, the most common issue was the falling number of the traditional student population, which is the age group between 18 to 24 years.

Further, 39 per cent of the leaders stated that the growing numbers of non-traditional students, including adults with full-time jobs was also a challenge. The remaining worries were about the falling state and federal funding, and decreasing public trust in the higher education. Lastly, some also argued about the political conditions and how they play a part in students coming to the United States for studying.

The challenges are many, and represent how changing pattern is set to impact the US higher education system. Yet keeping into note that the data was collected using only 500 leaders, the exact requirements are still hard to find out.

However, when it comes to changes in the student population, 89 per cent of the college and university officials are already sure about the school’s ability to deal with growing number of students who are working adults.

“We haven’t had any real consistency in … student involvement in higher education, the degrees that are delivered, the industries that are being serviced. So there’s continual change,” said Peter Stokes, managing director for higher education with Huron, who argued that colleges and universities are always dealing with the rise and fall in numbers.

Above all, the US higher education system also has a direct link with the high costs that sometimes makes it difficult for the traditional age group to opt for the respective course.

At the same time, the US-based companies such as Amazon and Google are also creating their own educational programs to compete with the traditional ones. Implying change is the only certainty in the US higher education system, which institutions must pro-actively deal with to avoid falling out of line.

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