– The Constantly Changing Scenario
The higher education system in the United States evolved from the British and German systems of education. The colleges, universities and their programs have, however, evolved over the years to accommodate current trends in social and political life. 17 events that are changing higher education, and have contributed immensely to its evolution in recent times include:
- Economic Meltdown – The global recession and economic meltdown have possibly had the greatest impact on higher education system in the United States in the recent years. It has changed the way students, teachers and employers view higher education. While the innovative and recession-proof programs have thrived, many programs have been scrapped due to lack of enrollment and job opportunities.
- Technology – Technological advances of recent times have had a major impact as well. The use of mobile devices for communication and education is more common than ever before.
- Internet – Internet has redefined history in the 21st century. The field of higher education has not been left behind. From online classes and programs to open source education, internet has changed the landscape of higher education across the globe.
- Social Networking – Facebook, Twitter and other social networking tools have changed the way students interact with their peers and teachers. The information travels faster, and everyone on and off the campus is within the loop in a few minutes.
- Cost – The increasing cost of higher education degrees and programs have made college less accessible to millions of Americans. Many students attending college also have to cope with student loans and debt after graduation.
- Industry – The relationship between government, industry and universities influences the structure and function of the university programs. Most higher education programs and research are funded by the industry and the government, and the trends in these sectors influence the education sector as well.
- For-Profit Universities – The aggressive marketing strategies employed by certain for-profit universities have introduced a business perspective into higher education. While the critics do not favor these universities due to poor quality and high tuition, their success has been credited to increased accessibility and relatively simple enrollment criteria compared to traditional colleges.
- Copyright Act – While the internet and technology has increased accessibility to study materials and resources, the Copyright Act has ensured that students do not lose their focus from learning. The anti-plagiarism rules help students produce original work, which has often been the basis of American innovation and life.
- Violence – The recent spike in campus violence and shooting of innocent students and faculty members by armed gunmen has forced the universities to reconsider their security policy and safety drills in case of an emergency.
- Competition – While competition has always been an important aspect of student life, recent research studies and surveys conducted by various magazines have put pressure on the university and college administrators and faculty members to improve facilities as well as the quality of education.
- Age – There has been a significant change in the demographics of the college population as well. While majority of college students ranged between 18 and 22 in the last decade, this number has been declining constantly. Enrollment of nontraditional students including older adults and baby boomers has been increasing significantly.
- Race – There is also a racial shift in the demographics with increasing number of Asian Americans, Latinos and African Americans getting access to education.
- Programs – The universities are shifting their focus from traditional degree to career-oriented professional programs. Many students are looking for accelerated programs which offer the final degree in the shortest possible time.
- Global Faculty and Student Mobility – Due to globalization more international students and faculty members study and work at American Universities than ever before. Many American students are also moving to international universities, especially in Asia to study and experience some of the fastest growing economies in the world such as China and India.
- Lifelong Partnerships – Many universities are creating communication channels to maintain contact with their alumni, and thereby develop a partnership that is beneficial for both.
- Holistic Curriculum – Many employers in the past have been dissatisfied with the communication skills of the students. The tough economy has forced universities to include communication and management skills into core technical programs as well to improve the employability of their students.
- Accountability – Increased technology and communication have ensured greater accountability from students, faculty members and university administrators.
- EduCause Review Online – http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/drivers-change-higher-education
- StateUniversity.com – http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2041/Higher-Education-in-Context.html
- An Overview of Higher Education in the United States – http://www.acenet.edu/bookstore/pdf/2004_higher_ed_overview.pdf