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The Value of Higher Education website, created by Educational Testing Service (ETS), is devoted to highlighting issues and trends in higher education. We provide news, insight, resources and a positive platform for discussion about America's ever-changing higher education system.


ICEF Monitor (Feb. 22, 2016) - Mapping Technological Change In Higher Education Through 2020

A new report, NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition, maps the major technological trends, and challenges, facing higher education institutions over the next five years. It emphasizes that blending learning approaches are already being widely adopted but also forecasts significant structural change for institutions by 2020. At all levels, technological change, including the adoption of new technologies in higher education, is being driven by student demand but also by educational leadership, policy change, and changing practices in education. In the executive summary, authors write:
What is on the five-year horizon for higher education institutions? Which trends and technology developments will drive educational change? What are the challenges that we consider as solvable or difficult to overcome, and how can we strategize effective solutions? These questions and similar inquiries regarding technology adoption and educational change steered the collaborative research and discussions of a body of 58 experts to produce the NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition, in partnership with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). This NMC Horizon Report series charts the five-year horizon for the impact of emerging technologies in colleges and universities across the globe. With more than 14 years of research and publications, it can be regarded as the world’s longest-running exploration of emerging technology trends and uptake in education. The experts agreed on two long-term impact trends: advancing cultures of innovation, as well as fundamentally rethinking how universities and colleges work. These are just two of the 18 topics analyzed in the NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition, indicating the key trends, significant challenges, and important technological developments that are very likely to impact changes in higher education around the world over the next five years.

Regarding the major obstacles for higher education, blending formal and informal learning is considered one of the solvable challenges — one that is already being addressed by programs at individual institutions. Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland has long recognized non-formal and prior learning, integrating students’ previous work and life experience into their curriculum designs.1 Some universities are also finding creative ways to leverage informal resources into coursework; marketing students at Indiana University, for example, use Instagram to explore and share successful campaign ideas. On the other hand, the experts identified balancing learners’ connected and unconnected lives as a wicked challenge — one that is impossible to define, let alone solve. As educational technology is rapidly advancing and evolving, it is difficult to always discern when and how to properly implement it to foster real transformation.



The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions. The ruling came in a case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, about the admissions practices at the UT, but will likely affect admissions and financial aid policies in most of American higher education. The court ruled that that the primary reason that the plaintiff in the case was denied admission to the university was not its consideration of race in admissions, but of its "10 percent plan," in which the top 10% of high school graduates are admitted to the public college or university of their choice.

The New York Times sponsored the Higher Education Leaders Forum, where the focus was on the future of higher education. Participants concluded that finding new ways to teach the digital generation, bringing down the cost of a college education and ensuring that more students graduate are among the biggest challenges facing institutions of higher learning today. Technology, for good and bad, is now firmly entwined in all grades, while lectures are becoming a thing of the past, participants acknowledged.

The recent vote for Great Britain to leave the European Union has caused concern among higher-education administrators in the U.K. education system that then may cause ripple effects in universities in other countries. Under the EU's "free movement" principle, students from other countries in the EU could come to the U.K. and pay the same tuition as local students. EU students could also "rely on the same U.K. loan facilities, whose terms — that borrowers only have to pay back loans once they reach earnings of £21,000 (or about $28,700) — are generous, at least by U.S. standards". Canada and the U.S. could benefit as the education systems are large, providing a range of institutions for international students to choose from based on affordability, qualifications, and their English language skills. Experts’ state U.S. universities will ramp up their recruitment of students from overseas, since they pay a premium compared to their American counterparts. In 2014-15, 124,575, students were from EU states outside the U.K. That figure is on the decline after taking a noticeable dive in 2012, the same year tuition for all U.K. and EU students nearly tripled.

Preliminary findings from a new global student survey from FPP EDU Media surveyed 40,442 students in 118 countries. The students, more than half of whom studied at the graduate and post-graduate levels, were asked 14 questions, many of which focused on how changing economic conditions would affect their plans for study abroad. Significant numbers of students in Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, and Malaysia said they are considering countries other than the US as their currency depreciates against the US dollar. 27% indicated that they are planning on studying in a country other than the US "where my funds have more value." Research also showed that in certain markets, large proportions of students are better able to afford studying abroad than they were two years ago. These include Algeria (where 81% indicated they could more easily afford to go abroad today), Vietnam (80%), and Colombia (75%). By contrast, only 40% of Italian respondents and 33% of Venezuelans felt that they could more readily afford to study abroad today compared to 2014.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of data from more than a dozen large U.S. public universities found that in the 2014-15 school year, the schools recorded 5.1 reports of alleged cheating for every 100 international students. They recorded one such report per 100 domestic students. Students from China were singled out by many faculty members interviewed. “Cheating among Chinese students, especially those with poor language skills, is a huge problem,” said Beth Mitchneck, a University of Arizona professor of geography and development. Faculty and domestic students interviewed said it appears that substantial numbers of international students either don’t comprehend or don’t accept US standards of academic integrity.

The state of South Australia has released an international student action plan, with the overarching goal of doubling the number of international students studying in the state. South Australia, which currently has 32,089 international students studying in the state, or 5% of Australia’s share, has set a goal of increasing the number to over 64,000. The plan identifies potential initiatives for international opportunities which will aim to make the marketing efforts more effective, including looking at diversifying markets, joint programs and trade fairs. The action plan also aims to grow the international education contribution to the state, which is worth just over $1.1bn to the South Australian economy.

A new Hobson’s report examines international students’ perceptions of higher education models, their motivations for study abroad, and their use of social media to research and apply to universities. The majority (61%) of students surveyed were intending to study at the post-graduate level, while 35% were aiming for undergraduate study. The vast majority of students pursue their studies on the basis of what interests them (89%), and many make a firm connection between what – and where – they will study and their career prospects. Four in ten (40%) said they would go where there is high demand for employees, and 38% would choose based on expected high earnings associated with the industry their degree prepares them for. Other survey findings include:

  • 43% of students stated "they would consider not attending university if the cost was too high."
  • 81% of students agreed that university is "the best way to prepare for their careers"
  • 25% of students would consider not attending university if there was a better way of getting an education;
  • 42% would prefer to stay in their home country if the quality of education was similar.
  • The report can be found here.

A British Council study, The Shape of International Education to 2025, predicts that China will remain the number one sender of international students to other countries in 2025, followed by India. Also at that ten-year mark, however, India will have the largest number of 18–22-year-olds poised to enter higher education – 119 million (an increase of 3.9 million students over 2012) – and China will have the second largest at 80 million (down from more than 115 million in 2012). The report highlights that the world’s leading study destinations – the US and UK – will continue to see their market share of internationally mobile students decline through 2025. This is largely a result of emerging study destinations claiming a greater share of international students, and of the increasing proportion of geo-local mobility. For example, 26% of Arab students studying abroad in 2012 did so within the Middle East (a jump from 12% in 1999).

The University Innovation Alliance, a group of 11 research institutions across the country, is on track to meet its goal of increasing the number of graduates at its universities by 20% by the 2022-23 academic year. The alliance institutions will graduate 94,000 more students than they would have absent their involvement in the group, which asks institutions to graduate more students, focus on their success across the socioeconomic spectrum, share data and innovate together. The alliance formed in 2014 and its major focus areas in the first two years have been predictive analytics and intensive advising as mentor institutions bring members up to speed and "student success teams" work on each campus to get closer to goals identified by a committee of leaders across all universities in the alliance.

Higher education leaders have shifted focus from reducing costs and driving efficiencies toward using technology to enhance competitive advantage and support emerging business models — and ultimately, the institution’s main missions of education and research, according to Gartner. Gartner forecasts that worldwide higher education sector spending will grow 1.2% to reach $38.2 billion in 2016. For institutions to thrive in the increasingly competitive education ecosystem, they must become more innovative and it is often technology that will underpin that innovation. Gartner has identified the top 10 strategic technologies for the higher education sector in 2016, which are: 1. Adaptive Learning, 2. Predicative Analytics, 3. Customer relationship management (CRM), 4. Interoperability, 5. Open Microcredentials, 6. Digital Assessment, 7. Smart Machines, 8. Open Educational Resource (OER) ecosystems, 9. Listening and Sensing Technology and 10. Collaboration Technology.

The Century Foundation published the first report in a new series on college completion. The report’s author, former USED official Bob Shireman, questions the recent push by government officials to have accreditors focus more on student outcomes. The report looks at how government officials have pressed college accreditors to focus more on "student outcomes," quantifiable indicators of knowledge acquired, skills learned, degrees attained, and so on. It then argues that it is not these enumerated outcomes that are the best way to hold colleges accountable, but rather the evidence of student engagement in the curriculum—their papers, written examinations, projects, and presentations—that holds the most promise for spurring improvement in higher education.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has released a new state-by-state look at nationwide college completion data that it released in the fall. Although the national completion rate for students who started at four-year public colleges fell 1.7 percentage points to 61.2% between 2008 and 2009, 15 states bucked that trend. Nationally, 32% of two-year college students graduated from a different institution from where they first enrolled; California and Texas were the most extreme examples, with more than 40 % of students doing so. And in 20 states, more than 5% of the starting cohort at four-year public colleges graduated in a different state. In 30 states, the same goes for students who started at four-year private nonprofits.


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