Three key changes to expect in higher education institutions include engaging hands-on courses, technological advances and upskilling
Looking at the future of higher education institutions after the alterations made the pandemic shows us the need for improved, engaging student learning provided by educators and institutions – to keep education modern and accessible to all.
Technology is now driving a different type of learning experience for students, with this shift required to ensure that universities can deliver well-equipped professionals for a changing jobs market.
Dilshad Sheikh, Dean of the Faculty of Business at Arden University, outlines the three imminent changes to expect in higher education.
Being more receptive to change
It’s vitally important that higher education institutions remain relevant and able to respond to what’s going on in our world, and that they can adapt to any future changes that might come along, too.
During the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses of all shapes and sizes made transformational changes that would usually have taken years in a matter of months. The early signs are that there is no way back from this, for even the most traditional of establishments – universities included.
Business leaders have expressed their doubt about students acquiring the skills they look for in employees before, furthering the importance of having courses that not only engage students and connect them to the real world, but also are relevant in today’s time.
To support this, case studies and real-world problems must be increasingly incorporated into study, rather than focusing entirely on theory-led sessions.
Being in tune with the real world
We are experiencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution and most students now have digital skills, even if they are as basic as opening a Word document. As a result, more and more students are expecting their university to adopt new digital technologies and technological advances like virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, or the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to move forward with the times.
Studies have shown that even though students feel they learn more through traditional lectures, they actually learn more when taking part in classrooms that employed so-called active-learning strategies that are designed to get students to participate in the learning process. It produces better educational outcomes at virtually all levels, so we need not try to convince ourselves that solely lectures are the best learning option.
Jobs of the future will define courses
Employers now want universities to move beyond simple bachelor’s degrees that often focus more on theory than practice as their primary product. More agile, lower-priced, digital credentialed “packages of learning” are valued by employers. ‘Upskilling’ is not a business buzzword, it is vital to keep pace with technological advances and introducing assessments that mirror this demand is essential.
The top three skills required by employers in 2015 were: complex problem solving, coordinating with others and people management. In 2020, complex problem solving remained at the top, but the latter two changed to: critical thinking and creativity.
To remain relevant and employable, workers are faced with the need to re-evaluate and update their skillsets and educators face pressure to update the focus of their courses and offerings.
Therefore, there is a pressing need for courses to relay the skills that individuals acquire throughout their life. As educators, we need to start looking towards the future and working backwards.