As we reported  earlier this month, we have started rolling out the results of our fall surveys with those newer-to-higher ed (“newbies”) and those that have been in higher ed for a longer period of time (“veterans”). Today we’ll let you know what respondents cited as the most significant change (positive or negative) that they have seen since they started working in higher ed.
The results fell into 13 broad categories*. Respondents mentioned the following significant changes:
*The large “Other” category included everything from “Helicopter parents” to “Growing respect for the work of community colleges.” Within this category there were not a sufficient number of responses in any one area to create a new group.
*Sample size: 407; with comments: 456
The most common change was “fewer resources.” Here are a few responses:
From an administrator: “Drop in state funding - from approximately 50% to 13% at my institution over the past 27 years.”
From someone who is both a faculty member and administrator: “The emphasis upon fund raising that corresponds with the loss of State funding, and its unintended consequences.”
From an administrator: “The crumbling of the underlying structure of financing for public higher education. It's broken. We urgently need to fix it.”
From someone who described themselves as “other”: “48% of our state funding has been cut. That's a pretty significant change.”
From an adjunct faculty member: “Lack of funding...period. It has changed everything.”
The second most cited change was the rise in online courses and degrees. This is different from the “technology” category where comments centered more around general technology used in higher education. Comments include:
From an administrator: “I think the move towards online education is fantastic, while pundits continue to complain, it has the biggest potential to democratize education in this country.”
From someone who described themselves as “other”: “The shift to teaching online has been a pleasant experience for me.”
For those who said that students were the most significant change they have seen, most comments were negative. For example:
From a tenure-track faculty member: “The dramatic increase in students who totally lack the academic skills to be successful at ‘real’ college-level courses.”
From an administrator: “Shift in attitude by student from grateful for the opportunity to customer that requires satisfaction.”
From someone who described themselves as “other”: “Diminishing ‘idealism’ of students; i.e., more focus on personal gain as opposed to diminishing drive for community well-being.”
There was only one notable difference when comparing answers based on position. Those who have been in higher education 10+ years were more likely to list the “corporatization” of higher education as the most significant change, compared to those who had been working for less than 10 years. In fact, none of the respondents who have been working in higher education for 1-5 years cited this as a significant change.
Stay tuned for more this week, as we delve deeper into a few of the “changes” above.