In a recent webinar by Jeff Selingo on “The 5 Disruptive Forces that will change higher education forever,” he claimed:
“The only really necessary people in higher education now are the professor and the student; everyone who stands in between these two has both risk and opportunity. And that is, obviously, the institution as well…”
We know something has got to give – the public funding is trending downward ever since the 1980s and the demographics of our learners is trending away from the homogeneity most graduates remember of their college days. More diversity, less prepared academically, less ability for families to pay, and the increasing trend for “swirling” between institutions (nearly half of UK’s in-state transfer students are in “reverse,” transferring to the KCTCS hoping someday to return to a 4-year school somewhere). The coming disruptions, Selig contends (see the archived webinar here on blip.tv), have already shown what is most at risk is any attempt by postsecondary education to keep offering “commodity” courses (also fondly known in the higher ed reform business as “killer” courses) and assume that a one-size-fits-all experience is working.
The U.S. has dropped to nearly last of all the industrialized nations in terms of higher ed completion rates (only Italy does worse). However, we can be sure that what is least at risk is the overarching reasons that students continue to go to college: to become more mature adults, and to participate in one of the most unique relationships from ancient times… that of student and professor. So, as we consider what we’re doing and why we do it, we need to examine with a critical eye whether we are standing in between the student and the professor or are we helping fasten that relationship together? Here’s something for you to consider. Are you part of a program or initiative that is a “risk” – or do you see yourself providing more of an “opportunity” as we move forward here at UK?