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    The StratEDgy blog is intended to be a thoughtful hub for discussion about strategy and competition in higher education.

Relevance In The Marketplace
July 17, 2013 - 9:43pm

As the late MIT economist Rudi Dornbusch once said, “. . . things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”

Several recent articles point to the changes in higher education happening at an accelerated pace. And not one of them was about MOOCS (massively open online courses).

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, there was an article “In Rare Step, Law Schools Shrink Faculty,” that started with “Law schools across the country are shedding faculty members as enrollment plunges, sending a grim message to an elite group long sheltered from the ups and downs of the broader economy.”  It seems that law school applications for the entering class of 2013 were down 36% compared with 2010 figures, and last year’s first-year enrollments fell 8.5% nationwide.

In the same WSJ edition there was another article, “Seeking a Shortcut to a Job,” [note: this one is behind a paid subscription wall] that detailed a growing demand for short-term, career-oriented certificates at community colleges.  According to this article, “The growing interest in certificates follows years of skepticism about noncredit programs, as some observers saw them as gimmicks that had little value beyond the paper they were printed on, while degrees were often regarded as guaranteed pathways to jobs.”  These certificates are growing – and represent a new revenue stream for cash-strapped community college but, as Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce reports, only 44% of certificate holders work in their field of training. 

In a Financial Times article earlier this week, ”The MBA – A Degree of Relevance for the 21st Century?” Ulrich Hommel, director of research and surveys at the European Foundation for Management Development, points out that “. . . the danger for business schools is that if they cannot tailor the education they offer to suit the new demands of the workplace, they face becoming sidelined.” 

And lastly, a BigThink article asked “Are Computer Science Degrees Necessary?”  According to this article,

“Google’s recent disclosure that they no longer use a candidate’s GPA as a criterion for hiring highlighted the increase in what tech research firm Gartner has coined the ‘citizen developer’: a programmer whose skills alone open doors to jobs that once required a formal degree.  Several small companies have stepped in to provide programming ‘boot camps’ to a wide range of people; one of these, Code Fellows, promises a full refund if students don’t get jobs paying $60,000 a year within six months of completing their course.  Another company, Treehouse, boasts "37,000 active, paying students—about the size of a large university.”

So perhaps the great unraveling has begun?  How relevant are your programs to today’s students in today’s marketplace? 


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