College and university leaders share their thoughts with University Business on what 2016 will bring in higher education.
The past year saw multiple shootings at some colleges and universities, while threats of violence closed down other campuses. Security will become a recruitment issue, says Carine Feyten, chancellor and president of Texas Woman's University, as prospective students and their families weigh campus security while making a final decision.
Campus shootings put faculty on edge
Campus safety includes everything from real-time social media updates during emergencies to mobile apps with weather-related cancellations, say Randell Kennedy and Nick Mirisis, president of Academy Communications and director of marketing at SchoolDude, respectively.
Value of a degree
As public colleges continue to face steep state budget cuts, more are focusing on recruiting out-of-state students to recoup lost revenue, says Hank Fuller, director of financial aid and scholarships at The Citadel.
Meanwhile, families in-state "will begin looking more carefully at why public institutions are more expensive than they used to be," predicts Monica Jacobe, director of the Center for American Language and Culture at The College of New Jersey. "Parents and students [will] ask where their tax dollars are going to work for higher ed."
The colleges that raise tuition the most—and why
And these rising costs have some questioning the value of a degree—and universities fighting to prove they're worth it, says Emanuel Contomanolis, senior associate VP at Rochester Institute of Technology. Schools are becoming more involved in "successfully launching the careers of their graduates," showing prospective students they will continue to have some support after graduation.
Technology and online learning
Online learning is gaining popularity with students and faculty alike, and it will only continue to grow, predicts Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor at University of Illinois, Springfield. Remote learning is "on-demand, self-paced, adaptive, just-in-time," he says, fitting into non-traditional students' lifestyles.
And according to ProctorU CEO Don Kassner, "Blended learning' will grow to become the representation of today's classroom." He adds that "a balance of technology and the 'human factor' enhances the student learning experience and supports teachers."
These efforts help ensure that students graduate on time—but integrating living and learning experiences also helps "develop the whole student," says Kelly Ricaurte, director of strategic communications and community relations at Keene State College.
Meanwhile, targeted interventions to increase student success are "the 'next big thing' in higher education," says Lisa Stich, VP of academic and student services at West Shore Community College. The combined focus on classroom environment, learning needs, and living experience will help colleges provide for students inside and outside of the lecture hall (University Business, January 2016).
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