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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.



Following the Brexit vote, many anticipate a drop in the number of E.U. students at U.K. universities. Currently E.U. nationals make up 5.5% of students at U.K. universities, and they’re eligible for domestic student tuition rates and British student loans. If those terms were to change - if E.U. nationals were to be assessed the higher tuition rates other international students pay and if they weren’t eligible for government loans - it’s reasonable to think some of those students would look elsewhere to study.

Hillary Clinton introduced her “Initiative on Technology and Innovation” which expands on her higher education agenda with boosts for alternative education providers and technology entrepreneurs. Clinton proposed opening up federal financial aid to alternative education providers, softening student loan repayment requirements for entrepreneurs and granting green cards to STEM students as part of wide-ranging tech and innovation agenda.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report that finds that public colleges and universities are drawing a large percentage of their students from community colleges, where nearly two-thirds of students transfer to a four-year institution. The group found that two in five students who obtained an associate degree in the 2009-2010 academic year went on to complete a bachelor’s within six years. Researchers say students under 20 years of age were most likely to take the associate-to-bachelor’s pathway, with almost 61% earning a bachelor’s degree within six years. Of the students with associate degrees who pursued a bachelor’s, 66% finished within three years, the report said.

The Democratic National Committee unveiled a draft of its party platform and free community college is a central part of the higher education plank. Although the draft plan calls for "bold new investments by the federal government" in higher education, it notably does not include free tuition at public colleges and universities, the ambitious proposal that Bernie Sanders had used to galvanize young voters. The proposal calls for expanding federal income-based repayment programs, to "significantly cut interest rates for future undergraduates," and to allow borrowers to more easily discharge their debt in bankruptcy. Also, the plan call for more dedicated funding for historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and other minority-serving institutions. Finally, it pledges to "strengthen" the Obama administration's gainful employment rule and "go after for-profits that engage in deceptive marketing, fraud, and other illegal practices.

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.


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