Emerging reports in the education industry make it clear that students and parents are questioning the importance of higher education. Some are increasingly asking “is university worth it?”
In a recently published edition of the Horizon Report, EDUCAUSE identified this issue as one of the key trends shaping the future of higher education. Some influencing factors include the rising cost of higher education and student’s preparedness for university.
In this blog we’ll discuss the emerging trend and the reasons why despite concerns, university is still more worthwhile than not.
Recent trends have been raising doubts about the importance of higher education.
The Importance of Higher Education
UNESCO on the Importance of Higher Education
Higher Education has served as a key pillar of society for decades. It contributes to the development of a successful society and boosts economic growth, competition and knowledge. Universities can foster individual benefits as well. They provide individuals with the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and learn from experts in their field. University degrees can also help students gain a deeper understanding of the world and foster a sense of belonging. This can contribute to a desire to make a positive impact on society.
However, in recent years the rising cost of higher education and growth of more affordable alternatives has led to questions around the benefits of higher education and people are wondering “is university worth it?”
Factors Causing Concern around the Importance of Higher Education
Some of the key factors influencing doubts around the benefits of higher education include:
– The Cost of Higher Education
– The Rising Cost-of-Living
– Student Unpreparedness
– The Value of Alternatives to Higher Education
Is University Worth It?
With all these concerns in mind, is university worth it today? Looking at available evidence, it certainly is. The many benefits of higher education mean it is still more valuable for young people to get a university degree, than not.
Some of the main benefits of higher education include:
Life Satisfaction Benefits
There are many benefits of higher education outside of the financial and career advantages. University and college graduates have better health and life satisfaction, and more friends too. Additionally, one study found that those with a university degree have a greater life expectancy as well. Furthermore, university graduates tend to have more favourable views of different cultures, contributing to a more understanding and emphatic society. This speaks to the wider importance of higher education, outside of the financial benefits of higher education.
Widening Participation Benefits
The importance of higher education is particularly clear when it comes to widening participation and equity aims. Research indicates that for first generation or underrepresented students, college degrees largely outperform alternatives in terms of providing a wage premium. In fact one survey in the UK found that those who were first in family to attend university, received a higher starting salary after graduation than those who weren’t. This highlights the crucial benefits of higher education for underrepresented or disadvantaged students.
There are many benefits of higher education, including employability, life satisfaction and widening participation.
How to Emphasize the Benefits of Higher Education
Succeeding in this new era of higher education is all about improving on the measurement and delivery of advantages to students, parents and employers. To emphasize the importance of higher education and to help students realise many of the benefits of higher education, institutions should focus on a few key areas.
Focus on Graduate Employability
As one of the main benefits of higher education, institutions should focus on improving graduate employability. Arranging work-integrated-learning opportunities for students can help them gain valuable work experience before entering the labour market. It can also help build their skillset, knowledge and confidence for the chosen industry. In addition, this will help institutions emphasize the importance of higher education to current and potential students.
Improve Student Completion Rates
While some of the benefits of higher education come from attending university and the experiences throughout, many rely on graduating with a university degree. As a result, it’s important that institutions do everything they can to help students succeed from enrolment through to graduation. One of the most effective ways to do this is through student learning analytics, early alerts and case management. By leveraging this technology, institutions can ensure every student is on track for success and emphasize the importance of higher education.
Enhance the Student Experience
Ensuring students have a positive experience while on-campus and attending your institution, is crucial to helping them see the benefits of higher education. Some key trends that have emerged to enhance the student experience include effective student support, personalised interventions and more flexibility. To implement a more proactive approach to student support and improve outreach and advising, institutions should leverage learning analytics to better understand how students are engaging and when they need support.
The more positive a higher education experience you can provide for students, the more they appreciate the importance of higher education.
While there are several concerning trends emerging in the higher education industry, such as the cost of higher education, the benefits of higher education still outweigh these. The importance of higher education extends from individual benefits such as employability and life satisfaction, to societal benefits such as economic growth and innovative research. However, higher education institutions need to do more to emphasize these benefits and help students realise the true importance of higher education.
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