Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pandemic-influenced Higher Education trends

My posts have shifted from individual, short, items to integrative posts on themes related to higher education. I've done this to assist readers as they attempt to integrate various reports they read.

This post is another attempt to draw issues together in ways that are digestible and usable. The following are themes drawn from my previous posts over the last year. They are at the highest level of generalization but may be useful for readers attempting to make sense of all the things that have impacted higher education over the last pandemic-influenced year.

Higher education in transition - COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace and nature of transformation but the need for change has been present for some time. Changes that are underway:

  •       Enrollment decline and shifts to elite and high visibility institutions
  •       Budget reductions and refocus
  •       Number of full-time faculty declining with fewer granted tenure
  •       Increasing role for on-line and hybrid learning
  •       Reprioritization of universities to address historic unequal access and the need to prepare for the workplace
  •       Increasing view of college/university degrees as a commodity to acquire
  •       The value of higher education is increasingly questioned by students and those who are politically conservative
Commitments that will help higher education in its transition:

  •       Nurture a “Generation Resilient” view that faces the reality of today’s world while restoring hope for what lies ahead
  •       Support on-time graduation and/or continuing enrollment goals for students
  •       Anticipate new and more intense student needs
  •       Focus on wholistic wellbeing that helps students thrive now and in preparing for the future
  •       Students from diverse backgrounds (including first-generation) warrant greater attention
  •       Enliven students’ openness to diversity, equity, and inclusion and move further toward radical empathy
  •       Acknowledge the shortcomings of higher education in conveying the full history of the U.S. and other countries around the world, including the origins and perpetuation of wealth inequality
  •       Endorse broad international frameworks (e.g. UN Sustainable Development goals) that reinforce education’s role
  •       Enhance the commitment to open exchange of ideas and foster respectful dialogue across political factions
  •       Validate experiences of varying types (e.g. on and off campus, work, research) as part of learning
  •       Resist the silos that have become so endemic and resistant to shared vision and work
Challenges that student affairs educators face:

  •       Students are increasingly experiencing financial, mental health, and courseload pressures
  •       Many students are unaware of, or do not utilize, student affairs offices and services, turning to peers and faculty as an alternative
  •       Marginalized students have less trust for colleges/universities, their purposes/programs, and faculty/staff
  •       The “hidden curriculum” (i.e. extracurriculum/cocurriculum) is poorly understood, especially among first-generation and other marginalized students
  •       Embracing a post-pandemic world requires reexamining assumptions, greater flexibility, and constant adaptability
  •       Restoring critical thinking and reasoning as a central construct of academic life, positioning students for more effective career and civic engagement

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