As the Inside the Trends Report stated, the American higher education system is under attack from all sides. One might attribute this to conflicting priorities of stakeholders. A university needs revenue to provide its core function, but the government is eliminating funding streams. Government and employers want an educated workforce, but many believe the society is not responsible for funding it. Parents and students want an affordable education but do not want to pay taxes to help with the funding.
It is somewhat of a conundrum that initiatives like the Bologna Process (EHEA, n.d.) may be able to help alleviate. Looking at it from a business perspective, the larger a corporation is, the better their purchasing power and political influence. If universities came together and established a network that purchased the same data systems, they could collectively save much money. If done overall systems and processes, operational cost would decline, and college could be made more affordable. The Army Medical Department took on an initiative like this when it established its Prime Vendor accounts. As a result of all organizations using the same supplier, cost per product dropped, logistics became more manageable, and the workforce (which continuously moves) developed a better familiarity with product specifications and characteristics.
If those same systems were used at each institution, students and faculty could freely navigate the system regardless of where they worked or went to school. I like a few specific aspects of the Bologna Process. First, although they are working together, each university maintains its unique culture. Second, I did not see anywhere on the site that the European Union was at the center of the collaboration. Lastly, not only did the educators and administrators come together, but they invited the stakeholders to be a part of the discussion.
The last point is the one that I believe would be most valuable for the American education system. Administrators, Presidents, and Boards should interact with external stakeholders to ensure schools are offering what corporations and industries need. I can relate to this point well because health educators are taught that the best way to establish a program is to bring in everyone who might have an interest in the outcome (stakeholders).
Two trends that I will keep an eye on are the loss of global prestige and the black-college renaissance (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2018). While I cannot definitively explain the trends, it would be interesting to investigate them in relation to the current sociopolitical climate in the United States. For example, is it a retreat by these groups to safer spaces? Are international students concerned that our current social climate is hostile to foreigners? Are they concerned that immigration laws may change before they can complete their degree? Are African American flocking to HBCUs not just for the education but the opportunity to express themselves more fully? Do our societal issues with marginalization and microaggressions play a role?
The two trends that show the most future promise are rebranding the Ph. D. and Student Success Up Front (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2018). Both trends represent a shift toward reviewing the learner’s options at graduation early in the education process. I think this is a best practice that should be adopted by more universities.
EHEA. (n.d.). European Higher Education Area and Bologna Process. Retrieved from EHEA: http://www.ehea.info/index.php
Chronicle of Higher Education. (2018, March 4). The 2018 trends report [Special report]. Chronicle of Higher Education