The University Of The Future: Five Trends That Will Change Higher Education

In the age of information technology, students live in a very dynamic environment where information is easily accessible and redundant. They interact with data differently as well as learn in a different way. A challenge arises: not only subject content but also teaching methods need to be redesigned.

The world’s universities are gradually adapting. The learning process in leading universities today is radically different from what it was 20-30 years ago. Five global trends can be identified. They are the ones that will be in demand in the development of higher education in the coming years.

Online education is becoming an increasingly viable option

Perhaps the greatest advancement in higher education is online learning. Currently, 1/3 of higher education students (US) take at least one class online. The number of students taking online courses in the US has more than quadrupled in the last 15 years, and online learning is gaining popularity worldwide. Given the increased cost of higher education, distance programs offer not only increased flexibility but also significant cost reductions. This allows students to have money to buy narrative essay or fancy clothes, so this factor is not to be underestimated.

Coursera, for example, offers a fully online master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in computer and information technology for one-third the cost of the on-campus version. 

The following trends are worth a look for young people who are at the beginning of planning their higher or secondary education.

New educational content

The modern education system is focused on subject-specific learning. However, it is equally important for a person to be able to make decisions, work out a plan of action, and work in a team. In order to succeed, he or she must have communication, leadership, teamwork, and other skills (the so-called soft skills). The new content of education will be to raise not just an expert in professional matters, but a harmonious person who can interact successfully with other people.

Transition to competency-based education, which reduces costs and shortens the time for students to complete their studies

Achieving a degree in this non-traditional way is another new recent trend.  Students enrolled in competency-based programs master individual skills and knowledge areas at a pace that best suits them. 

Experts say it is too early to predict the effectiveness of these programs, but their popularity among students and employers continues to grow. The number of competency-based programs is expected to increase over the next five years, and 83% of institutions that already have programs expect them to grow.

The increasing role of educational tools such as Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) technology is not just the latest craze in the world of video games. Teachers are looking for new pedagogical approaches to increase student engagement, so the use of this technology will only increase.

Virtual reality devices can be used for everything from creating virtual laboratory spaces for chemical experiments to simulating medical procedures.

Using new tuition fee schemes

Income Share Agreements (ISAs) help students finance their studies (at the moment only available to US citizens) 

The essence of such agreements is that if you are unable to pay your tuition fees, the University offers deferred tuition – the cost is repaid in installments after you complete your degree and enter the workforce. 

For example, students have to pay back 20 percent of their income for the first five years if they do not find a job – they are not responsible for the payments. Institutions share the risk with students, and in this particular program are responsible for student outcomes. And in such cases, the university has a direct interest in the successful employment of its graduate. 

The scheme is very interesting, hopefully, it will be actively developed and maybe even become available to international students as well.

There is no doubt that the pace of innovation in higher education will increase as the sector continues to face high costs, declining returns on investment, and a mismatch between the knowledge offered and the skills demanded by the labor market.

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