2017 Higher Education Predictions

In the monthly CEO Keys blog series, Keypath Education CEO Steve Fireng shares his thoughts and insights into the most prevalent topics in the higher education industry today.

As we begin 2017, it’s a great time to reflect on what’s in store for the new year. As we begin 2017, it’s a great time to reflect on what’s in store for the coming year. Last month, I shared the 2016 trends I was thankful for, such as the evolution of social media, online education, career preparation and more. These developments will continue to shape the higher education landscape. Here are five predictions on the big ideas and trends that will continue to revolutionize higher education:

  1. Online education will be increasingly global. To date, U.S. schools have focused almost exclusively on U.S. students when marketing their online programs. Two things are changing: A) Schools from around the world are launching degrees online. Online acceptance has been slow, but the speed of development is accelerating. B) U.S. degrees are still the most highly regarded in the world, but many students (either because of changing immigration regulations or financial reasons) cannot move to the United States. These students are seriously considering online education. A recent study by Parthenon-EY indicated that 14 percent of international students are open to studying online versus a very small portion in past research.
     
  2. The market for micro-credentials and boot camps will grow in 2017. Boot camps at stronger branded schools will grow faster than the rest of the market. Right now, the traditional schools offering boot camps are relatively small, but enablers such as GetSmarter and Trilogy Education Services are helping universities launch boot camp programs. As with the online learning surge, once the branded schools come into a market, they are equipped to grab significant market share.
     
  3. Healthcare programs will continue to significantly outpace the market in enrollment growth. While RN/BSN degree growth has slowed, programs that have clinical components continue to grow with programs such as RN and Nurse Practitioner degrees. Demand for nurses at hospitals and the push to update training will grow significantly in 2017. Following closely behind, are computer science and information technology. We’ve published two market studies surrounding these fast-growing programs, revealing the top trends in nursing education and how to launch an online nursing program and analyses for the computer science and information technology academic degree market
     
  4. Successful integration of new and existing technology will be key. Universities have adopted many technologies and systems, but using them to their full capacity and gathering sufficient data to prove success are significant challenges. The importance of linking data systems with retention and analytics will be vital here on out. A recent Eduventures survey indicates that over 80 percent of schools list systems integration as most important in 2017.
     
  5. Competition between online and ground programs will intensify. The overall base of students continues to drop, making it even more critical to launch the right programs, market effectively and create a compelling student experience. At the same time inquiry-to-enroll conversion rates are on the decline for on-ground courses, online courses are seeing a more than 20 percent jump. Make sure you have a finger on the pulse of what students in your region are looking for. Research shows that even online students favor schools close to home.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this year takes us and how we can help our partners navigate the intricacies and substantial shifts that will affect the industry in the year to come. 

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