Higher Education as a Hub of Innovation

Change in education is here, and more is on the way in the future.  From the political shifts in Washington to the recent large investments in educational technology, signposts of change are visible all around us.  Globalization, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data Ö these are just a few of the recent innovations disrupting industries around the world.

We have been supporting colleges, universities, and K–12 organizations to engage in a process that ensures success as you meet these changes now and in the future.

For colleges, this means staying relevant in a world that is changing rapidly and requires young people to forge new skill-sets during their higher education years.

The question is how will Higher Education prepare young people to engage in new fields of study?  According to the AACU survey recently published in Inside Higher Ed, only 37% of employers think current students have the skills necessary to work together in teams and only 21% believe that current students are up to date on developments in science.

We at Curtis Strategy believe colleges and universities are uniquely positioned to lead change.  With improved strategy, partnerships, and outcomes, they can meet the needs of the changing post college employment landscape.

Recently EvoLLLution, an online newspaper focused on innovation in higher education, surveyed thousands of current university Presidents and higher education leaders.  The three top priorities that emerged as the driving forces of change were the integration of new technology, serving adult learners, and the effects of declining budgets.

There are many universities and colleges embracing the new landscape and leading the way.  These schools grow niche programming and expand their outreach toward high schools as well as prepare students for work in organizations with global reach by providing more opportunities for students to study abroad.

One state college recognizing the need to broaden diversity among its student population to reflect the surrounding demographics is Zane State College, a two-year state school in Ohio.  Zane decided to develop a pathway for success by building partnerships with local high schools and creating opportunities for students to learn about and enroll in college.  New services range from courses advising high school students on college applications to early acceptance and enrollment into the college for high school students enrolled in a special program that identifies students with promising futures who would not typically attend college.

Clark University in Worcester assists students by developing a pathway for success starting in high school and ending with employment at Unum, a large insurance agency that is one of the major employers in the city.  Often, the students who participate in this program face a myriad of obstacles that may range from homelessness to English being a second language.  But Clark, the Worcester Public Schools, and corporate sponsors provide the support students need to succeed.

In recognition of employers, who responded to the same AACU survey mentioned above stating they believe only 14% of college students have adequate awareness or experience of cultures outside of the US, some colleges and universities have invested in opportunities for students to spend time abroad on campuses in Europe, North Africa, and beyond.  Jason Lane, professor of education at State University of NY–Albany and his team of researchers found that the number of US colleges and university branches abroad nearly doubled, showing an increase from 82 to 162 over a period of eight years between 2002 and 2010.

At Curtis Strategy, we recognize the pressures facing the higher education community as well as the opportunities that colleges and universities can take advantage of right now.  When you embrace the concept of an educational pathway that starts in grade school and continues through employment, colleges and universities become the fulcrum.  Schools that develop effective programs that meet the needs of incoming students, as well as companies looking for competent employees, will stand out and become the desired colleges for the future.