Leaders of three top universities in North America have underscored the need for adaptability and creative solutions across the higher education system in light of ongoing economic uncertainty across the globe, which has caused student loan debt to spiral out of control. Additionally, educational institutions are being burdened with crippling operational costs.
Senior administrators from the University of California, Berkeley, Webster University in St. Louis, and the University of Toronto discussed the issues the industry is facing with University World News.
One point of view that was raised is that it is precisely in times such as these that the need for higher education becomes greater than ever. Those without college degrees are finding it increasingly difficult to get a job, which can only lead to an increase in demand for advanced training.
Alternate learning modalities and online college degrees are often hailed as offering the potential to make higher education accessible to a wider variety of students than ever before in history, but these options come with their own challenges.
It is, however, clear that new technologies will continue to play a vital role in the post-secondary educational environment this year.
One option that has become increasingly popular in the last few years is that of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. Some universities, however, prefer to use a combination of online and face-to-face learning.
The reality is that more and more students are looking for education that will enable them to create jobs once they have completed their studies rather than become an employee working for someone else.
An example is the University of Phoenix, which offers an online BS in Business/Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship, an online MBA program, an online BS in Business Administration and even an online Doctor of Business Administration qualification.
One of the major benefits of an online degree program such as this is that the budding entrepreneur can immediately start to apply the knowledge he or she gains during the course in the business world.
People who have attended a traditional brick-and-mortar university will know how little one actually remembers of what was learned during the first year in college by the time the final year is completed. This is not the case with online education because the knowledge you acquired yesterday can be used today.