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Can you afford to ignore the four higher education megatrends?

Posted by  Austin Laird

Higher education has changed dramatically in just the last decade. Here are the four megatrends in higher education as we see them... the question is: can you afford to ignore them?

Higher education (HE) has changed dramatically since 2009 from a “centrally funded, planned and protected” sector to a “competitive market for earned income”. The problem is, university administrations themselves have changed remarkably little over these years.

Today, institutions are forced to compete for students, demonstrate their value and meet growing digital service expectations, all while developing and implementing new economic models to help them do more with less. While increasing enrollment growth is still the top strategy for generating revenue, tactics to achieve this are failing.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the four higher education megatrends we’ve identified.

1. A commercial market

Enrollment growth is down, and competition is up. HE is a consumer-led market where non-traditional students (and equally diverse learning models) are the new norm. Disruptive competitors are filling the gap by reinventing the way students are attracted and admitted, then serving and supporting them throughout their entire journey as customers, like they would be in other transactional areas of their lives.

2. A new student experience

Students expect to interact with you digitally wherever they are, whenever they want, and through any device using the latest communication technology. And four out of five would be more satisfied if their institution had a single digital system to manage all administrative aspects of their education. Plus, because their opinions are posted instantly, your reputation is in their hands.

3. Regulators demanding more

The focus on accountability and transparency has never been greater. And funding models are evolving to focus on outcomes. You have to prove your worth through concrete success indicators to regulators, accreditors and consumers. Next-generation institutions are managing this better with digital tools that improve reporting and data visibility while boosting success rates by, for example, identifying and intervening with at-risk students.

4. New economic models

Institutions are diversifying into new delivery models and adopting the latest integrated solution suites that streamline processes. Modern cloud-based solution suites allow institutions to flexibly update academic offerings and improve decision-making through reliable, real-time, institution-wide data.

At the core of the solution suites used by next-generation institutions are new-generation student information systems (SISs) and integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms designed with HE in mind.

These technologies change how tasks are done, how staff interact with data through technology and how they use information to identify new opportunities. This improves workforce wellbeing, engagement and productivity. The end result is exceptional institutional performance and better service for students.

Higher education is a new game with new rules. To read more about the megatrends and learn how to respond to them by embracing the right technology, download the industry brochure: NEW GAME NEW RULES — The stark reality of a disrupted market and how next-generation institutions are reacting.

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Austin Laird

Austin has been a part of the higher education industry for over 20 years, in a wide range of roles from a university registrar assistant to product manager and industry technology strategist. Prior to Unit4, he held multiple pre-sales, product and leadership roles at Oracle, including Global Director, Education & Research Technology. Austin joined Unit4’s Higher Education team in 2018 as product director for Unit4 Student Management.