The Road to Higher Education is Paved with Challenges, Nay - OpportunityShaul Kuper | Chief Executive Officer, Destiny Solutions
Alignment. We know what that means when it comes to our vehicles’ front ends, or when we hear CEO’s of corporations talking about their organization’s ability to align their employees with the goals of the company (which hopefully are aligned with the expectations of their customers). From an educational perspective, I for one feel that we have been driving down the same old bumpy road for a long time, and the steering wheel is now vibrating too harshly to ignore the fact that as an industry we need to realign our wheels, or face running off the road entirely.
Over the past few years, so much of what made higher education successful has simply changed. Content, which we all knew was king, is now for the most part available to anyone free of charge. Attending classes no longer requires getting out of bed and, in many cases, doesn’t require interaction with another human being. Budgets for education have been slashed, and tariffs for cross state border learning have been tabled despite the enormous need to educate an ever-growing workforce. People with degrees find themselves in unemployment lines and the average learner no longer fits the traditional mold of the 18-22 year old living on campus and going to school full time.
Students today want just-in-time learning to gain employment or a higher paying job. Degrees are not necessarily as important as learning outcomes and life experiences (which one day may be trumpeted with badges as opposed to a parchment). These 21st century learners have choices. Empowered by technology’s broad reach, they act more like a consumer than a student, comparing products and selecting the best fit for their individualized needs. What’s more, today’s learners are learners for life. Gone is the norm of a once in a lifetime education.
Costs have changed dramatically over the years, but the system hasn’t. Governments are spending less money on education (in a per capita sense) than ever before, but are directing institutions to do more, do it better and do it more efficiently.
Our education system was designed centuries ago—its roots go back millenniums—but instead of rethinking and reconstructing this tuition-revenue model from the 1600s, we simply keep repaving the surface while ignoring the underpinning foundations. Perhaps it is time to reimagine our educational system altogether? What if we were a start up nation, without any outdated infrastructure or preconceived ideas on how an educational system is “supposed” to work. Suppose we simply started again from scratch. Can you imagine?
We’ve gone through this minor repaving process so many times already that we have now hit definite cross roads, presenting two options. For those who believe everything is business as usual, they had better grab the steering wheel tightly, as the road is only going to get bumpier. For those who choose to evolve, it’s an opportunity to get on the freeway and create a whole new vision. This is no trivial matter and requires complete alignment in concept, in funding and in execution, all the way from the highest offices, down to today’s learner.
We as EvoLLLutionists can make this happen. It is up to all of us to ensure that our voices are heard, and more importantly that we are all listening to one another.
Author Perspective: Business