Since the first postsecondary institutions opened their doors over a thousand years ago, it has been going through constant change, especially in the last few decades. This is mostly due to the rapid technological advancement we are witnessing.
New challenges have forced universities to adapt, which has consequently led to significant changes in the postsecondary education over the past few decades.
Significant Shift in Student Demographics
The traditional student is seen as a fresh high-school graduate of 18 to 23 years old, who dedicates full-time to his studies. At the same time, the term non-traditional student’ has been used to identify students over 25 years old who work full time while continuing their studies.
Now around 60% of all the students are working full time or are engaged in the part-time or online study and they are no longer the exception, but the norm. Over 38% of students are over 25 years old.
An Increasingly Competitive Higher Education System
Long time ago universities faced little to no competition. Now, with many new private universities opening their doors, the postsecondary education has become a very competitive market. In the United States, there are almost 7,000 accredited postsecondary institutions.
In addition to that, there are more ways than ever for students to take classes and obtain the knowledge they need, from online classes to corporate universities.
The number of postsecondary institutions is expected to decrease in the next 10 years as many of them have financial difficulties and will soon be bankrupt.
A Very Strong Left-Wing Bias
While universities should be a great environment to debate new theories and test ideas, the strong liberalism of most of the academia has made this virtually impossible. Professors and students who dare to disagree with the common left-wing views are dealt with and the faculty is trying to prevent them from speaking.
Free speech in academia is non-existent for anyone who doesn’t agree with the liberal views. Examples like those of the Brandeis professor who was condemned for racial harassment just because he explained the word ‘wetbacks’. An even more unfortunate case is that of the professor in Florida who was suspended for comparing his exam questions to a ‘killing spree’ show that any innocuous comment can be regarded as offensive.
Tuition Fees Increased Continuously
Tuition has skyrocketed since 1980 and its growth hasn’t been proportionate to the price increase for other consumer goods. The average cost of tuition, fees and room and board was $9,438 in 1980. In the past three decades, the cost has reached $23,872.
This can be explained by the fact that more of the universities’ cost has been passed to the students. The student enrollment has been increasing generating new costs for universities as they needed to hire new staff. At the same time, the government expenditures for each student is lower, thus placing more of the financial burden on the student.
Initially, students were seen more as customers who buy a service and like any customer, things had to be done to keep them happy and content. Student-centered universities focus on providing the best learning experience for the students as the best way to help them succeed.
Student-centered learning changes the classic transmission of information from the teacher to the learner and uses students in the production of knowledge. This methodology celebrates the individuality of each person and allows students to apply the knowledge in their own context.