A college education used to be tackled once in life, early on. Now, students may be picking classes based on babysitter schedules rather than who is the best professor.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Photos: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images
Higher education institutions are buckling in the face of demographic shifts, the arrival of automation, declining enrollment, political headwinds and faltering faith in the system, Alison and Kim write.
Higher ed is struggling to prepare students for today's — let alone tomorrow's — economy.
All of this is crashing down on the higher education system, which now has to figure out a new way to serve students — and society.
The bottom line: Our idea of what college is and who it should serve has changed, but the institution has not caught up.
"Universities were designed to last, not change."— Bridget Burns, executive director, the University Innovation Alliance
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
U.S. colleges aren't producing enough graduates with the skills companies need. So corporations are partnering with community colleges and alternative credentialing programs to build worker pipelines.
Driving the news: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday that a cloud computing degree program developed with Amazon Web Services will be expanded to colleges statewide in Virginia, where the company has major data center operations.
What's happening: Tech companies in particular are helping design curriculums to ensure students graduate with the exact skills they need to walk directly into jobs.
By the numbers: The U.S. has more than 700,000 open technology jobs, but universities are producing only about one-tenth that number of computer science graduates.
Nearly half of Americans think they need more education to move up in their careers, with younger, non-white and urban residents feeling a greater need for additional skills than their peers, according to the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey of 350,000 people to be released next week.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Agreements in which students pay a share of their income after they graduate and secure a job are being offered at some colleges and coding schools as alternatives to traditional student loans, Alison writes.
What's happening: The Trump administration has discussed experimenting with federal Income Share Agreements (ISAs), and legislation to develop a legal and regulatory framework for the agreements has been introduced in Congress.
How it works: Rather than pay tuition up-front, students agree to pay a portion of their eventual income back to educators.
Supporters say they provide financing for students without access to traditional loans or federal aid, and force accountability on higher education institutions to align students' skills with the job market.
But others worry that some students end up paying back substantially more money than they would with a regular loan, notes Axios' Felix Salmon.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Photos via Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Universities and colleges in the U.S. have been renovating and building up their aging campuses in hopes of wooing a dwindling number of students to enroll, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
The big picture: Higher education institutions are banking on returns on these investments, but student enrollment has been trending downward for 8 consecutive semesters, shuttering 11 universities this year.
What's happening: Investment in existing higher education facilities was at an 11-year high in 2018, according to a report last year by Sightlines that pulled data from more than 360 campuses.
But the traditional revenue model of enrolling more students isn't supporting the new investments because of broader trends in the U.S., including a booming economy, a low birth rate and fewer international students.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage
Georgia State University is leveraging AI-powered chatbots and predictive data analytics to create a new student-advising system that has significantly boosted graduation rates, Kim writes from Atlanta.
Why it matters: It's well known that personalized, timely attention plays a major role in graduation rates. But the students who most need that support are often the least likely to get it.
How it works: Students can text questions — like, "What if I don't have my immunization records?" or "What is a subsidized student loan?" to GSU's chatbot.
The impact: For low-income, African American and Hispanic students, the graduation rates shot up by over 30%, bringing these groups in line with — and even above— the rest of the student body.
Photo: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped at UNC Chapel Hill on Thursday during a college tour.
The big picture: According to Pew Research Center, 59% of Republicans believe colleges negatively affect the way things are going in the country — a significant reversal from 2012, when 53% of Republicans had a positive view.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Axios' Jessie Li contacted editors at 120 U.S. college student newspapers and asked them, “What matters most to students today?”
What they're saying: Race, diversity and inclusion were by far the most discussed issues among student editors.
Other issues of common concern include mental health services, sexual misconduct, gun violence and public safety.
What's next: When asked what the biggest concern was for the next generation of students, editors repeatedly raised the problem of rising tuition and student debt.