Higher education is facing pressures from all directions. Gallup’s The State of Higher Education 2022 Report outlines the severe impact of COVID-19, including the increase in isolation, the disruption felt by closures, remote learning and heightened burnout felt across faculty and staff. These challenges, combined with recent declines in birth rates, have led to a 5.1% decrease in enrollment across post-secondary institutions since the pandemic began. 

The key to successfully navigating change in higher education: Strategic Communication  Graphic showing strategic communication at the center/starting point and through line to successfully navigate change/all the issues higher education institutions are facing today.

This data shows the need to reimagine higher education — and quickly — to stop the decline in enrollment and spark interest from prospective students. Change management efforts will see the most success when supported by effective strategic communication. As a result, colleges and universities will: 

  • Reenroll students who left. In fact, 85% of those who were recently enrolled in a certificate or degree program, but stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic, have considered reenrolling.  
  • Spark interest in alternative credentials. Data shows associate degrees and certificate programs are the most popular credential of interest for unenrolled individuals, aligning with a 2020 report that shows a growing focus on alternative credentials.1 
  • Support students when they need it most. More than half of all unenrolled adults report the cost of a college degree is a very important reason they have not continued their education. For those enrolled, about half report that financial aid was an important reason they were able to remain enrolled.  

Change Management: The essential guide to transformational growth. Download this guide.

Strategic communication plays an important role in many changes colleges and universities may be considering. This includes: 

Despite these challenges, the majority of U.S. adults still view higher education as an important factor in achieving career and life success. Strategic communication can help your college or university navigate the changes necessary to address the pressure points facing higher education today.  

Seeking support in navigating necessary change in your organization? Contact Karen Schultz to start a conversation.

1Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, The Overlooked Value of Certificates and Associate’s Degrees: What Students Need to Know Before They Go to College, 2020.

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