Stories that shaped 2011
As 2012 begins, InsideTrack has complied some of the news stories that impacted adult higher education the most in 2011.
"Non-traditional" students are now the norm at U.S. universities
Full-time, 18 to 22-year-old students who live on campus and attend four year institutions are increasingly in the minority in the United States, with just 15% of students fitting this description. Instead, the fastest growing group of students in higher education are adults. Thirty-eight percent of those enrolled in higher education are over the age of 25 and one-fourth are over the age of 30. The share of all students who are over age 25 is projected to increase another twenty-three percent by 2019.
Enrollment in online post-secondary programs more than doubles
The National Center for Education Statistics released data indicating that between 2000 and 2008, the percentage of undergraduate students who took at least one web-based class increased from 8% to 20%.
Department of Education tightens regulation of for-profit colleges
The U.S. Department of Education worked to negotiate the details of new rules regulating higher education, with a special focus on for-profit students' gainful employment and loan repayment post-graduation.
Community colleges shift focus to outcomes
Higher education policy organizations, including the Lumina Foundation, placed additional focus on completion at community colleges. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, stated at a Lumina-funded community college awards event that, “It can’t be just about getting in the door at community colleges ... We have to take community college outcomes to the next level.”
Tuition assistance cuts and restrictions limit military student options
The Pentagon developed new rules intended to insure that service members use their federal tuition assistance appropriately when they enroll in post-secondary school, but critics argued that the new policies would be too restrictive and would preclude some programs best suited to the needs of active duty soldiers and veterans.
Accreditors consider including student outcomes in assessments
Ralph A. Wolff, president of the senior college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges expressed to university leaders that accreditors must identify a “core set of student achievement measures, both quantitative and qualitative,” and define an “acceptable level of performance” that all colleges should meet.
Graduate school enrollments dip for the first time since 2003
The Council of Graduate Schools announced that enrollment of first-time graduate students in the United States dropped by 8.4% in the previous year. This was the first decrease in graduate student enrollment in seven years.
U.S. News releases online post-secondary program reviews
In response to the growing popularity of online education, U.S. News and World Reports announced that it would review online post secondary programs. However, after controversy around how these programs would be evaluated, U.S. News chose to launch the new reviews without numeric program rankings.
Business schools compete to enroll top students
Despite the fact that the average volume of business school applications has been down for the past two years, top programs are competing to enroll applicants with the highest test scores. which will in turn improve the schools' rank and reputation.
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The ground has shifted in fundamental ways in higher education and it is becoming increasingly evident that strategic structural reorganization will play an important role in the financial survival of many institutions...
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