Addressing Pay Compression Amid Minimum Wage Hikes: An HR Guide

How the Higher Education Market Is Changing from Static to Dynamic

Changing markets drive businesses to improve their product and service offerings, with customer satisfaction being the ultimate goal. However, for decades now, higher education has remained static, typically serving a fixed product to an unchanging market. No thorough review has been conducted to assess the state of higher education, the curriculum and programs offered, and how these affect the customers, in this case, the students and employers. Consequently, the higher education market demographics are changing faster than universities and colleges can cope, leading to market instability.

Changes witnessed in higher education institutions include:

Declining Overall Undergraduate Enrollment

Ever since the pandemic hit, the number of undergraduate students enrolling in institutions has declined by 6.6%, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Although the declining population has partly contributed to this, pandemic-fueled pressures have also played a part. Instead of choosing to go to school, young adults now prefer joining the workforce to cope with the tough economic times. Considering the high cost of living as well as education, those from low-income families are the most affected. Specifically, the need to support their families during the tough economic times and the high cost of education make it nearly impossible for this group to enroll in higher education.

Increased Online Enrollment

Although online enrollment also declined due to the pandemic, it later picked up, and hence, institutions are now recording more enrollments in this sector. To give you an idea, the number of students enrolling for online undergraduate studies increased by a staggering 367% in the fall semester of 2020. Experts cite convenience as one of the reasons fueling this increase.

Decreased Male Enrollment

One of the higher education purposes is to educate as much of the population as possible. Every segment of society, be it race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or geography, deserves getting an education. For centuries now, the number of male students enrolling in higher education has always been higher than that of females. As a result, females have suffered problems such as underrepresentation in leadership roles and inequality in compensation. However, over the past decades, the number of male students enrolling in college has significantly dropped. For instance, research reveals that in fall 2020, 5.1% fewer males joined college compared to a 0.7% decrease of their female counterparts. Worse still, cases of college dropouts are more prevalent among male students. The bad news is that no one knows the societal and economic consequences of these disparities yet.

Why Higher Education Should Change

The world is a changing place, mostly changing for the better. The current needs of society are not what was there in the previous century. Therefore, the only way to keep up with the needs of the society, just like in a market context, is to know what people want and formulate strategies for satisfying them. In higher education, for example, more students seemingly prefer online studies now. This means that institutions need to revamp their technology to accommodate e-learning. Also, the rate of undergraduate enrollment is declining partly due to the high cost of education. Therefore, institutions should find ways of making college more affordable to all segments of society. The relevant stakeholders should also keep reviewing degrees, certificates, and the curriculum to ensure that students and employers get just what they want. To achieve these, the necessary research and data collection, as well as the speedy implementation of stakeholders’ recommendations, is required.

How McKnight Associates Can Help

Institutions of higher learning should strive to keep up with the changes to stay relevant in the market. Looking for a consulting firm with experience working with legal, salary, and other human resources issues? Contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc. We are ready to offer you hands-on human resources consulting for colleges, universities, medical centers, and organizations of all sizes.