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Higher ed thought leaders forecast 2016 trends

Presidents and other thought leaders look ahead on security, enrollment and tuition
University Business, January 2016
Carine Feyten, the chancellor and president of Texas Woman's University, says security will become a recruitment issue for students and their families.
Carine Feyten, the chancellor and president of Texas Woman's University, says security will become a recruitment issue for students and their families.

Carine Feyten

Chancellor and president, Texas Woman's University

Topic: Safety and security

Trend: Campus safety certainly is going to get more attention from senior administration—and how we are perceived by prospective students and their families will impact their “buying decision.” Finding the right balance of open and enjoyable campus life and controls that might mitigate bad things from happening is a challenge and is going to absorb more resources than in the past.

Topic: Academic technology

Trend: New cultural mores driven by our digital world cause us to ask: “What is core knowledge?” ; “How do we embrace the inevitability of AI and robotics?” and more. Higher education is adapting and integrating the constant stream of technology into learning including powerful formative assessment tools to inform students, parents and faculty of projected pathways to success.

Cynthia Teniente-Matson

President, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Topic: Recruitment, retention, enrollment

Trend: The transition from a military career to the civilian workforce lacks uniformity and higher education institutions are experiencing progressive increases in veteran enrollments. It is important that colleges and universities adapt to this convergence with flexible schedules, specialized support services for the student and the entire military family as well as unique degree offerings that support the military sector.

Michael Alexander

President, Lasell College (Mass.)

Topic: Tuition, financial aid

Trend: Lots of talk about new business models, but not much action. It is imperative that we find alternative models for traditional undergraduates that preserves the focus on personal as well as intellectual development of students, while delivering a quality education at significantly lower cost. I think we will start to see colleges experimenting with various approaches to this issue.

Michael E. Echols

Executive vice president, Bellevue University strategic initiatives

Topic: Competency-based education

Trend: This trend will fade in 2016 as more colleges and universities grow to realize that the cost of building a trackable model becomes burdensome and the realization dawns that students don't really care about it. (Mostly because it's been communicated through a thick layer of academic jargon and does not relate to what students care about.)

Lawrence Frederick

Chief information officer, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Topic: Finance

Trend: Higher ed will split into very high-quality, high-price institutions and low-cost institutions initially with lower quality, but soon high quality. The middle will be gone with the disappearance of the middle class and the hollowing out of the economy with similar job differentiation. Middle of the road institutions will start to fail.

Hank Fuller

Director of financial aid and scholarships, The Citadel (S.C.)

Topic: Recruitment, retention, enrollment

Trend: A continuing decline in state funding for public four year colleges has created a desire for out of state students to help bring lost revenue back to the budget. The trend that will be building is fewer families may be able and willing to pay the out of state tuition rates.

Ray Schroeder

Associate vice chancellor, University of Illinois, Springfield; director of online leadership, University Professional and Continuing Education Association

Topic: Remote learning

Trend: Over the past 20 years, online higher education has grown faster than higher ed as a whole. We are entering a new phase of the online learning phenomenon—learning available not just online, but on-demand, self-paced, adaptive, just-in-time. This will spur even further growth and accelerate the growth and responsiveness of higher education.

Monica Jacobe

Director, Center for American Language & Culture, The College of New Jersey

Topic: Tuition, financial aid

Trend: Students and parents, increasingly concerned about the costs of higher education in the U.S., will begin looking more carefully at why public institutions are more expensive than they used to be. The root cause is decreasing state funding, which will force those same parents and students to ask where their tax dollars are going to work for higher ed.

Colleen Bielitz

Chief business development officer, strategic planning and innovation, Becker College (Mass.)

Topic: Academic affairs

Trend: Nanodegrees will begin to grow as students seek particular skills that will allow them entree into specific industries. Colleges that offer nanodegrees geared toward developing high-demand skills (up-skilling) will gain a competitive advantage over other higher education institutions still offering just traditional degrees, because nanodegrees center solely on providing students with a new skill that employers will value.

Lisa Stich

Vice president, academic and student services, West Shore Community College (Mich.)

Topic: Student success

Trend: Predictive analytics will be the “next big thing” in higher education. Student success efforts have been widespread since 2011, and results have been incremental. Predictive analytics will allow us to test interventions and make improvements informed by best practices but customized to real campus populations. This will allow us to get better results, answer accountability demands and serve students.

Jeffrey Cornett

Director, institutional research at Ivy Tech Community College (Ind.)

Topic: Student success

Trend: 2016 IPEDS reporting will now require colleges to comprehensively study the success of all college students, not just full-time FTIC students. Students experience college in diverse ways, and the previous concept of “on-time” completion will become recognized as invalid. IPEDS will now report over an eight-year horizon. The diversity of student experiences across diverse educational environments will become better understood.

Kelly Ricaurte

Director of strategic communications and community relations, Keene State College (N.H.)

Topic: Student success

Trend: Colleges that provide both living and learning experiences have the opportunity and responsibility to provide an education that integrates curricular and co-curricular programs in a way that is focused on the needs of students. Planning should tap into opportunities that develop the "whole" student. We find this to be particularly important in the liberal arts.

Emanuel Contomanolis

Senior associate vice president, enrollment management and career services, Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.)

Topic: Student success

Trend: In response to criticisms of unsustainable rising costs, higher education institutions are facing enormous pressure to demonstrate their value proposition particularly in successfully launching the careers of their graduates. This responsibility to ensure outstanding services and career outcomes falls most often to career services organizations. Institutions must re-commit to these organizations, resourcing and re-positioning them for student career success.

Jonathan Kent

Vice president for enrollment management, Thomas College (Maine)

Topic: Tuition, financial aid

Trend: More and more high school students are seeking out college classes to get ahead and cut down costs. Therefore, colleges are going to respond by creating associate degrees in hopes that the student will attend their Institution.

Joseph Tufano

Vice president & chief information officer, St. John’s University (N.Y.)

Topic: Student success

Trend: As the devices required to experience this technology become more available, this technology will become more prominent in the teaching and learning environment. Many academic disciplines utilize simulations. IVR is the progression of that approach. This technology can be utilized by all academic programs.

John Corby

Director, IT, University of Akron (Ohio)

Topic: Academic technology

Trend: Need to reach to more and more students to maintain headcount, especially non-traditional students.

Don Kassner

CEO, ProctorU

Topic: Remote learning

Trend: I believe "blended learning" will grow to become the representation of today's classroom, as opposed to the traditional paper-based classroom. However, the key to successful technology integration relies on also maintaining a strong human element. A balance of technology and the "human factor" enhances the student learning experience and supports teachers, allowing them more time to focus on teaching.

Geoff Irvine

CEO, Chalk & Wire

Topic: Academic technology

Trend: Data integration will continue to grow across multiple technology sources. Universities all have an SIS but are also breeding grounds for uncommunicative, niche data collection tools. On the horizon are uber cloud-based data hubs that will merge data from these many sources to generate problem and stakeholder-relevant reporting. Result: optimal visualization.

Jay Bhatt

CEO, Blackboard

Topic: Student success

Trend: In higher education, we will see fewer institutions. The more progressive, aggressive community college systems will continue to galvanize around competency based education (CBE); the concept of focusing a college education on a target career. This is absolutely the wave of the future. There will be a softening of the economy and students will demand specific job skills and maximum return on investment. Technology will help plug the skills gap through educational solutions. CBE and 2 year colleges will put increasing pressure on the existing system.

Adam Newman

Founder & managing partner at Tyton Partners

Topic: Student success

Trend: Mergers among suppliers of student success technology will continue, resulting in a less fragmented market. Nonetheless, institutions will struggle to identify which vendors to work with, and to what end. Advantages of mergers (including delivery of more comprehensive and tightly integrated products) won't be fully realized until institutional leaders empower a vision for change, supporting collaboration and improved student experiences.

Tony Ard

Vice president, higher education, Axiom EPM

Topic: Finance, tuition, financial aid

Trend: For years, institutions have relied on spreadsheets for planning and budgeting. But their complexity, and their propensity to be error-prone and disconnected has caused many to look for better solutions. New cloud-based platforms allow institutions to integrate planning and budgeting, tying in key financial drivers for a more effective and accurate financial forecast while improving visibility and accountability.

Jim Donohue

Chief product officer, Cengage Learning

Topic: Academic technology

Trend: Digital learning tools will evolve to become not just student friendly, but life friendly. Products built without vast amounts of feedback from the end user -- the student -- will fail.

Sean Gunduz

Senior Product Manager of Projectors at Epson America, Inc.

Topic: Academic technology

Trend: Advanced AV technologies, including interactive displays, are extending learning beyond traditional classroom walls while further utilizing the use of mobile devices. As these technologies continue to modernize the learning experience, student learning is moving from large group lecture to the creation of huddle spaces or informal, collaborative digital whiteboarding areas, where students work together to share ideas and solve problems.

Paul Gazzolo

Senior vice president and general manager, Gale

Trend: Digital humanities efforts grow substantially as computer science and humanities departments partner with academic libraries to make new research discoveries using text and data mining. This digital humanities surge provides an opportunity for academic libraries to be seen in a new light, collaborate more with faculty and university leaders, and demonstrate their value for student and faculty success.

Christian Gilby

Director of product marketing, Aruba Networks

Topic: IT infrastructure

Trend: Increasingly, the availability of robust, pervasive Wi-Fi is a key factor in student evaluations of colleges and universities. With the number of mobile devices per student escalating, edtech options expanding, bandwidth needed by apps growing, and density of devices rising, Wave 2’s ability to significantly boost network capacity will be critically important for infrastructure performance in 2016.

Bruce Alperin

Senior Director of Marketing, Aramark

Topic: Partnerships with private enterprise

Trend: RFP for professional services typically involves an institution identifying a desired scope and then seeking respondents. This approach often results in limited innovative solutions and unrealized expectations. Future efforts will involve both parties collaborating prior to the RFP release to develop a scope with higher order outcomes. This will bring greater innovation and tap into the full capabilities of partners

John Cook

Vice president, The Sextant Group

Topic: Academic technology

Trend: Lecture capture systems are "must-have" technology for many institutions. Unfortunately, the quality produced in standard classrooms (not optimized for recording) often results in an unsatisfactory experience, unless reviewing sessions that you attended. Many factors – including a shift to competency based curriculum - fuel expectations of higher quality instructional materials, resulting in greater needs for small "light broadcast" studios.

Nick Mirisis

Director of marketing, SchoolDude

Topic: Safety & security

Trend: Mobile technology will continue to play a crucial role in helping universities maintain a safe teaching and learning environment and communicate updates to students, faculty and staff. Emergency mobile apps will be leveraged more for non-crisis use cases as they can be an important communication tool for more common events, e.g., building/classroom closures, campus parking updates, weather-related cancellations.

Randell Kennedy

President, Academy Communications

Trend: As presidents and others expand their direct engagement of internal and external audiences, a profound impact is seen in the ways campuses communicate. Embracing social media requires that guidance and expertise be available from campus communicators at a moment’s notice or in real time. In 2016, more colleges and universities will shape the job descriptions of their communication hires accordingly.

Joel Dolisy

Title: CIO and CTO, SolarWinds, Inc.

Topic: Education IT

Trend: As fear around moving to the cloud has lessened, schools are rethinking their IT infrastructure. The ability to move more applications and infrastructures offsite is opening the door for schools to reap the benefits of cloud computing, namely improved on-demand services, scalability, and portability. As for security concerns, many believe that 2016 is the year that the first cloud service provider will be breached. Joel is predicting that the repercussions will hit businesses hard but education should come out relatively unscathed.