CEO Keys: The Year of the Student

03/06/18   |  
Steve Fireng

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.

You’ve heard the adage that the customer is always right. It’s a saying that’s been around for decades. The problem is, until recently, it has only rung true in very narrow contexts. Salespeople may have told unhappy customers what they wanted to hear, but the stores still ran the show. Customers had to meet retailers, financial institutions, healthcare providers and, yes, universities, on the institutions’ terms.

Now, however, all that is starting to shift – and nowhere is the shift more apparent than in higher education. Our “customers” are our students, and they are demanding that we meet their needs. If we don’t allow them to influence the degrees we offer, the employment paths we encourage, and the flexibility to study on their own terms, we will lose them.

That’s why I have declared 2018 the year of the student. In my recent 2018 outlook blog, I said that in today’s competitive learning environment, “students are taking control of their educational experience. Universities need to meet students where they are, not expect students to come to them. Those that don’t innovate will quickly be left behind.” Putting students before profit, tradition, and even outcomes is more important than ever. Fortunately, when we put the students first, the profit, tradition and outcomes are sure to follow.

At Keypath, our mission is to create global access to online education. Effectively, we are helping universities put their students first, regardless of geographic location. We are deeply passionate about the student experience, and we are dedicated to bringing that passion to our university partnerships.

We believe in breaking down the misconception that online learning is inferior to campus-based learning. We believe in enabling access to higher education for everyone, and we believe in making sure our students know that however they choose to learn is the right way.

We believe in letting our students know that their reasons for choosing distance learning are as valid as they are varied. We think they deserve the same transformative higher education experience online as we’ve delivered in the classroom for decades.

And across the globe, we’re making sure that students are being put first. Here are just a few examples of how our university partners are impacting students’ lives through exceptional online learning experiences:

  • Paul Betts, MBA graduate of Southern Cross University Online on why he chose to study online: “Before I started my degree with SCU Online, I didn’t think I had time to do another degree. I have a wife, I have two children in primary school, and I like to compete in triathlons. The week I finished my course, I was offered a role as a general manager in an operational role. Without the flexibility of SCU Online, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this course.”
  • Dana Pina, MSW student at Florida State University Online, on fitting an online program into her busy life: “My mother went back to grad school at 50 years old, so I had that as an example to look at. I knew I wanted to go farther and I knew it needed to be an online program because I needed that flexibility. I can’t commit to sitting in a class on certain days at certain times because I have to work and take care of my children.”
  • Nicole Nerkowski, Master of Science in Lean Manufacturing graduate from Kettering University Online, on her fantastic experience with the program: “I have a passion for the automotive industry and manufacturing, and I wanted to see that same focus in whatever school I chose for my degree. Another reason was because one of my idols in the automotive industry, the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, is an alumnus. I figured if she could go to Kettering and get to where she is today, the school would bring great opportunities for me as well.”

The Year of the Student means opportunities for them to have their voices heard, their schedules accounted for and their dreams realized. It means opportunities for you, too: to adapt to the changing technological world, to create global access to quality higher education, and to prove to your “customers” that you are listening. 

So I ask you: What will you do this year to make your student’s experience exceptional?