The higher education landscape is constantly evolving, with new opportunities – and challenges – continuously arising. It’s important to keep up with the latest trends and developments while thinking about what’s next.
So, what’s on the horizon in 2023? In this article, Krysia Lazarewicz, VP of Business Development, shares some exciting insights and her predictions for the future.
1. Building microcredentials into a program
I believe microcredentials have two primary purposes in the market. First, to encourage enrollment or retention, and second, to align with employer competencies. They also play a significant role in helping students achieve meaningful milestones sooner. Some enterprising colleges are considering how to accomplish both aims simultaneously, but focusing on your primary metrics will be critical to developing the right solution for your institution.
Did you know…?
A massive 81% of recent college graduates wish they had been taught more life skills before graduation to better prepare them for life after school. That’s a significant proportion of learners. So, we’ll need to think about how colleges can address this. For example, embedding certifications within degree programs is an important step that will help show students you can support their specific needs in life.
But microcredentials aren’t just valuable to learners. They can help close employers’ skills gaps too. In fact, data shows that many HR professionals would interview an applicant who didn’t earn a degree but had earned microcredentials. And, when focusing solely on an applicant’s skills, just over half (51%) will use industry certifications. That’s more than those who use a college degree (45%).
What will your microcredential strategy look like?
Microcredentials are also an important way for undergraduates to recognize their skills and, in turn, better communicate those skills to others. So, what would a credible microcredential strategy need to include? Here are two items:
1. A focus on helping students make the most of their skills.
2. Help translating their learning into credible demonstrations in the ‘real world.’
It’s not enough for learners to say, “I have a badge in Excel.” Postgraduates need to demonstrate to potential employers what those skills have helped them achieve, such as, “I learned this as part of my program at X, where I earned a credential that endorses this learning. My skills in Excel have helped me solve this particular problem, and, as a result, I was able to accomplish Y.”
Here’s an example of how we’ve approached this. Wiley partnered with SNHU and the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) to develop an MBA with all of the AICPA certificates and credentials embedded in the program. The result? One quarter to a third of students actually completed more credit hours than were required for the degree – on purpose! This provides a great proof point of how these certificates have positively impacted the program’s overall value for the learner.
2. Evolving partnership models
Breaking up is never easy, right? There’s a growing narrative around ‘breaking up’ with a partner, but I believe we’ll need to frame it as more of a reset. This should be an opportunity to discuss what you’ve achieved so far, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and how to move forward together.
So, how will you collaborate to evolve as the market changes and develop new goals that align with today’s reality? To start, I’d encourage colleges to ask their partners where they think their institution’s opportunity lies. You might want to ask:
- Why are you still excited about this partnership?
- What do you think we can offer that nobody else can?
- Do you still see the potential for us to be successful together?
- What challenges do you see in the market, and how do we overcome them together?
Collaboration will be key
You’ll need to give your partner the opportunity to share their vision openly. This may help you shape your feedback to them so it resonates more strongly.
Next, I would use that insight to connect back with your institution’s goals and priorities. Both you and your partner have likely learned since you originally crafted your agreement. And it’s only natural that your strategies and priorities have evolved as your partnership has evolved. So to start, you’ll need to think about your expectations of a partner and how you’ll measure success. Be honest and open with your partner. Tell them what’s different now and how you need the partnership to move forward to create the same success in the future.
Rethink your terms and expectations
Importantly, the terms that helped you get off the ground are likely not the same as those you’ll need moving forward. Share what you think would work better. Think about your expectations of a partner and how you’ll measure success. Don’t be afraid to ask about new contractual obligations, such as performance metrics, shorter duration terms, and greater transparency in areas where you want to know more detail.
Another approach is to begin with the end in mind. What would success look like in the partnership? What shared goals do you believe in, and are you aligned on your shared strategy to achieve them? Keep in mind that your partnership doesn’t necessarily need to be a revenue share. Fee-for-service or hybrid models are also options.
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3. Online strategy as a university tool
I believe technology-enabled learning will be valuable in shaping the future of higher education. I’m seeing universities continue to innovate, expanding the use of existing technology and exploring new learning tools. Therefore, colleges will naturally evolve into new ways of learning, which will benefit their students and brands alike. Think experiential learning, hybrid or hyflex learning models, wider internship opportunities, simulation integration, Chat GPT utilization, or expanded simulated lab usage. These will all contribute towards the success of the institution as a whole.
And while there’s a tendency to see online as a separate market, it’s important to recognize it as a means to enable the evolution of other markets as well. For example, it helps faculty become more familiar with the technology that’s out there. And as faculty become more and more familiar and comfortable with the tools available to them, so will students.
In turn, students will learn and grow in these digital environments and ultimately advance these tools and platforms in the workplace. For instance, consider how technology has changed core service models in telemedicine, telecounseling, legal practice, customer service, and commerce. Your learners will need to be prepared with the technical and ethical skills to navigate this evolving workplace, so developing your excellence in technology-enabled learning will set them up well in their careers.
Want to explore more trends?
Our team can help you discover the very latest in new learning and technology trends through our university support services. Our online programs are built to meet your students’ needs, with full support for your faculty. Whatever your requirements, we’ll help you go further with comprehensive, flexible services that tie learning to career.
About Krysia Lazarewicz
As Vice President of Business Development at Wiley University Services, Krysia leads a team responsible for developing long-term strategic partnerships that amplify, extend, and expand higher ed institutions’ missions. Her goal is to ensure Wiley meets the institutions where they are and partners with them to effectively attract, recruit, engage, and retain students who can benefit from the learning opportunities available.
Krysia’s passion for strategic partnerships stems from her career focused on improving access and engagement in learning for all. Prior to working in higher education, she taught middle school math and science. She then worked on the Mastering X platform at Pearson, where she developed best practices for higher education content development. After that, she became the SVP of Curriculum at Learning House, which became a Wiley brand. There she helped higher ed faculty develop and deliver high-quality online programs.
Krysia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Women’s Studies from Bowdoin College, a Master of Education from Lesley University, and is an alumna of Shady Hill School’s teacher training course.