Trends in Higher Education and Results-Driven Recommendations

March 18, 2024

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Title: 2024 Trends in Higher Education

Source: Hanover Research

Drawing from extensive research and experience collaborating with hundreds of higher education institutions, Hanover Research’s 2024 Trends in Higher Education report outlines critical trends and practical solutions to guide college and university leadership in facing current challenges in higher education.

Trend 1: Institutions reduce enrollment barriers for a changing prospective student demographic. Institutions aim to increase access and affordability for both traditional and nontraditional students by removing testing requirements, lowering tuition, and expanding credit transfer and direct admissions.

Recommendation: Strategic enrollment management using predictive modeling and demographic data can help colleges identify and reduce barriers to entry. Institutions could also survey students on their barriers, implement targeted recruitment campaigns, and strengthen community partnerships to engage more prospective students.

Trend 2: Colleges and universities strategically refine student supports to improve retention. Institutions are implementing structured retention plans outlining measurable goals for keeping students enrolled and on track to graduate. Customized programming then provides academic, financial, or personal assistance to groups demonstrating the greatest risk of attrition.

Recommendation: Institutions could form retention task forces, use predictive modeling to identify at-risk students, benchmark services, survey campus climate, and build a culture that encourages utilizing support.

Trend 3: Campuses promote high-return academic programs that connect student interest with industry needs. Institutions are aligning program development to student interests and regional workforce gaps through career embeddedness and labor market data.

Recommendation: Institutions could implement academic portfolio reviews informed by labor data, form employer advisory boards, analyze search trends, prioritize programs with award gaps, and emphasize career outcomes in student marketing.

Trend 4: Institutions articulate their value to students and underline their economic impact. Institutions are conducting economic impact studies and community partnership initiatives to address public skepticism and highlight their purpose and positive impact on students and society.

Recommendation: Institutions could reexamine their brand promise, incorporate community engagement goals into strategic plans, continually assess those partnerships, and align economic impact studies to institutional priorities.

Trend 5: Higher education leaders lean into nimble approaches to finances and organizational structures. Institutions are pursuing new revenue streams and strategically restructuring finances and staffing for sustainability.

Recommendation: Institutions could audit strengths and resources; engage stakeholders in potential organizational changes; and explore options like microcredentials, grants, partnerships, and commercial services.

Hanover Research concludes that institutions able to embrace innovation and change in these areas will be best positioned to increase enrollment and completion numbers while securing their financial footing and community relationships for the future.

Click here to read the full report and explore related reading.

—Alex Zhao

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