Technology has disrupted plenty of industries, from banking and finance to hospitality. So what’s next? We think there’s a lot of opportunity for disruption in higher education.
There’s a lot of talk about technology in the classroom, whether it’s implementing educational video games into the teaching process or integrating useful technology skills (like coding classes) into the curriculum for younger students. And why we don’t understand the importance of books? Higher education, however, has continued to operate surprisingly the same for decades, prompting the question “why?”
There’s a huge opportunity for disruption in the higher education field, and some startups are already starting to tackle long-standing problems that have become commonplace in the higher education industry. Here are four trends that are starting to emerge and that we think will be worth watching in 2017.
1. International Study
It’s no surprise that there’s been an increasingly high demand for international study opportunities for students in emerging countries like China and India.
However, studies like the Open Doors Data from the Institute of International Education have actually seen an increase in study abroad interest from students living in places like the US and Europe.
With students growing up in an increasingly connected and globalized world, the interest of attending university in a different country is becoming more and more appealing to a very broad subset of students.
2. More Transparency in the Selection and Application Process
For decades, the process of selecting and applying to a school has been fundamentally the same. It’s consisted of either a student researching and choosing a university themselves, or (and this is most common in developing countries), students hire an educational agent to help them sort through the selection of schools and navigate the admissions process.
Since admissions processes can vary among schools, this seems like a great way to ensure that applications are submitted correctly and everything goes smoothly. However, there’s always been a lack of transparency about which agents partner with certain schools to guide students into those universities – regardless of whether it’s the most ideal fit for the student.
And even more worrisome is that many students and their parents aren’t aware of these associations and often times don’t realize the massive conflict of interest that’s present.
Driven by the openness and transparency of the Internet, many students are beginning to demand more transparency from this entire process. This means that agents and educational consultants will have to be more upfront about which schools they partner with and disclose any potential bias before working with students.
3. Standardized Applications and Admissions
It’s inevitable that once something gains a critical mass, there needs to be a standardized process to make things go more smoothly. And the same principle applies to the university and college application process.
With more students applying to a wider pool of schools, it’s cumbersome and difficult to fill out and create individualized supplemental application data for each school. To help minimize that, there’s going to be a shift towards a more standardized application process. In fact, it’s already happening.
The Common Application is a standardized application process for university students that incorporates a university essay, along with all of the essential history and background information needed for admissions teams to make an informed decision. The Common Application is already accepted by over 700 schools all around the world and is growing each year.
4. Big Data will Drive Admissions and Student Life
Big data has upended a lot of industries with its ability to quickly collect and analyze large subsets of data to help drive better and more informed decisions.
This practice will become more and more commonplace to help schools sort through applications and find great students that are a strong fit for their educational programs and university culture.
But big data usage won’t stop there – it will also become more of a driver for helping new students and international students integrate into student life and will help guide student activities and events that are a good fit for student interests and abilities.