Challenges and Trends on the Horizon for Leaders in Higher Education

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One of the few constants in life is change. Although academia might not be as quick to change as many other industries, leaders in high education generally find it favorable to keep a weather eye on the horizon to spot the upcoming trends that may affect their schools, especially if you are enrolled in GCU’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Higher Education Leadership degree program. Remember that every challenge is actually an opportunity for your school, staff and students.


Access to Education

It’s only natural for prices to increase over the years, thanks to inflation. These days, no one would expect to walk into a coffee shop and pay a quarter for a cup of tea. Yet, inflation isn’t the only factor driving up college tuition, fees, room and board. University endowments have gone through some tough times too. Plus, many prospective students and their parents underestimate the sheer scale of the operating costs of a college campus, which runs like a de facto city. Despite the rationale for raising tuition costs, higher education administrators must still find a way to strike a balance between fiscal prudence and accessibility of education, otherwise, they risk pricing students out of classes altogether.

Need for Interpersonal Skills

The ever-rising demand for technological integrations in the classroom is undeniable. Colleges are feeling the pressure to modernize in order to attract new students, retain current students and entice faculty. There’s nothing inherently wrong with upgrading a campus’ technology, but faculty leaders should become aware of the need for a balance between graduating tech-savvy students and soft skill-savvy students. Employers do want graduates with STEM skills but they’re also looking for employees who work well with others. Ideally, the college experience can help students acquire:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Acceptance of criticism (and personal growth from it)
  • Communication abilities
  • Time management abilities
  • Strong work ethic

Rates of Retention

Historically, retention rates have been more favorable at the most selective of schools compared to less selective schools. This is true regardless of whether the school is public, private not-for-profit or private for-profit. If you’re an administrator or faculty leader at a less selective school, you’ve likely already considered how to address this problem. Before you can develop solutions, you need to understand the causes. Consider implementing an informal exit interview for students who are dropping out or transferring to another school.

Safety of Campuses

Every student should feel safe on campus, but many do not. College campuses have always struggled with crime, ranging from petty theft to sexual assault. Other public safety and wellness issues include sexual harassment, discriminatory practices and inadequate mental health services. It isn’t easy to change a campus culture overnight, but college administrators are finding themselves under increasing pressure to do so. It’s essential for every higher education leader to take a proactive approach to identify potential problems and implement solutions.

With a doctoral degree from Grand Canyon University, you’ll be well-prepared to take on the challenges that come your way as a leader in higher education. Our College of Doctoral Studies is pleased to offer our modern Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Higher Education Leadership degree program.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.