The dynamics of higher education are rapidly evolving. From enrollment shifts to technology innovations to the very perception of higher education and its value, it’s imperative for colleges and universities to understand what’s going on in the market and how to respond. This post highlights 4 higher education trends to keep an eye on in 2024 and how your college or university can stay ahead of the curve.
Trend #1: Increasing Higher Education Martech Investments
Enrollment challenges are leading higher education to realize the importance of embracing technology to find and enroll students more efficiently and effectively. The global market size of CRM software for higher education was approximately $2.5 billion in 2022 and is projected to keep expanding, reaching around $7.8 billion by 2031.¹
To stay ahead of the curve, colleges and universities need to prioritize their tech stacks with CRMs that use predictive analytics, automation platforms that streamline workflows, and AI tools that enable strategic budget optimization and data-driven results. Seamless integration ensures enhanced communication and centralized analytics across platforms. Ultimately, this results in more personalized, accurate and cost-effective enrollment marketing outreach.
Trend #2: Continued Online and Hybrid Growth
Online and hybrid modalities continue to grow while face-to-face enrollment remains stagnant or declines. In the most recent Quality Matters™ Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) report, the chief online officers surveyed reported 36% growth for fully online programs and 20% growth for hybrid programs.²
To stay competitive, colleges and universities should increase or enhance their online and hybrid offerings. This will ensure you’re responding to student needs and will allow you to tap new student segments.
Trend #3: Reengaging Some College, No Credential Students
More than 40 million Americans have completed some higher education without obtaining a credential or degree. A 2023 report from the National Student Clearinghouse indicates that while the number of Some College, No Credential (SCNC) students is on the rise, there is tremendous opportunity to reengage this population.³ Specifically, there are two groups that states and institutions should focus on re-enrolling: students who dropped out of their program within their first year and students who already have at least two years’ of academic progress toward a credential.
To reach SCNC students and encourage them to re-enroll, colleges and universities need to leverage targeted and personalized marketing outreach (aided by data-driven martech, as mentioned above). Offering certificates, completer programs, and stackable credentials, as well as accepting transfer credits from other institutions, creates pathways for SCNC students to easily restart their higher education journey and receive the credentials they need. Additionally, offering more online and hybrid options makes it easier for students to pursue higher education while juggling employment and personal obligations.
Trend #4: Changing Public Perception of Higher Education
While Americans generally still believe in the importance of pursuing higher education, many are questioning the value of a degree.⁴ A recent Gallup poll showed that only 36% of respondents have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education, with confidence down from 48% in 2018 and 57% in 2015.⁵ Colleges and universities can counter the changing perception of higher education by taking steps to clearly show the ROI of a college degree. Some ways to do this include:
- Ensuring strong student outcomes like high retention and graduation rates
- Expanding program portfolios with online, hybrid and other flexible options
- Aligning program offerings with labor market needs
- Revamping messaging to be more outcomes-based with an emphasis on ROI
Navigating Higher Education in 2024
Market demand for higher education is rapidly changing, requiring colleges and universities to adapt their offerings and marketing strategies to remain resilient in a highly competitive landscape. Current trends require embracing new technologies, providing ample hybrid and online offerings, understanding the perspectives and demographics of those likely to enroll, and adjusting your strategy accordingly. By staying on top of higher education trends and responding accordingly, your institution can smoothly navigate change in 2024 and beyond.
Get The Expertise You Need
Staying at the forefront of this dynamic market demands expertise and staffing resources that many universities lack, and investing in staffing resources may not be realistic for those launching new programs on tight budgets.
Everspring equips universities to adapt and thrive as technology and demographics reshape higher education. Learn how we can help your university take advantage of these opportunities.
1. Higher Education CRM Software Market Report, Business Research Insights
2. CHLOE 8 Report, Quality Matters
3. Annual Progress Report, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center
4. What the Public Really Thinks About Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Ed
5. Americans' Confidence in Higher Education Down Sharply, Gallup