The Growing Importance of Student Engagement in Higher Education
The first universities opened their doors well over a thousand years ago. The overarching structure of the academy has changed very little since those early days. However, the rapid increase in the rate of technological advancement over the last 20 years created profound changes in workforce demands and economic realities. Now, in order to flourish, universities must find solutions to new challenges and overhaul many of their entrenched business processes. This presents an enormous opportunity for institutions to reimagine how they do business.
At the very core of these changes, is the shift in the student profile. The typical student is no longer 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Rather, adult student enrollment has increased substantially in recent years, and is projected to climb faster than traditional-age (18 to 22 years) enrollments over the next decade and beyond. Already, 73 percent of higher education students are considered non-traditional, meaning they may work while attending school, study part-time or online, or support a family
Non-traditional students view themselves as consumers and have high expectations for the service they receive before, during and after enrollment. In fact, today’s students have the same service expectations when selecting a higher education institution as they do when making any other major purchase. It is because of this shift in expectations that student engagement has never been more important to higher education.
Students are demanding more from their institutions than ever before and top schools need to meet these expectations despite the constraints of the current economy. Administrators are seeking to make their schools more operationally efficient and more growth-oriented —and in so doing, they must adopt a business-minded approach to higher education management.
The fundamental shift in higher education
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