Higher education has changed a lot over the years, and 2014 will be no different. As our economy shifts, policies change, and expectations of what higher education should be deviate, new education issues will emerge. In 2014, we can expect to see trends like growth in competency-based options and increased emphasis on teacher effectiveness; we’ll also experience some new (and ongoing) challenges to higher education:

Money, Money, Money

It’s not a new issue—but it’s certainly still one of the top challenges to higher education. Over the past five years, we’ve seen a huge jump in cost, mostly because of a lack of state tax support and mostly in public universities. This year, the White House and Congress may have to step in and do something about it.

The Skills Gap

Despite the fact that universities are underfunded and struggling just to survive, America is calling for better employment preparation. Newly created jobs in a (finally) recovering economy are great—but employers say they’re having trouble finding qualified applicants and want higher education institutions to do a better job of churning out well-prepared future employees.

Learning Assessments

People want to know what the billions of dollars poured into higher education is doing for the country. Are our current assessment methods effective? To determine that, we need a solidified set of goals and outcomes, and we need the tools to accurately measure whether they’re being met.

The Rise of the Non-Traditional Student

The “non-traditional student” is becoming more common than the “traditional student.” Today, 18-24 year-olds studying full time and on campus are actually the minority. These days, it’s much more common that students are working part-time, attending school part-time, commuting, or studying from a distance with online education programs. Unfortunately, most of our country’s policies and programs are catered toward the previous crowd, which only accounts for about 20% of students enrolled.

College Vs. Career

It used to be that most people didn’t attend college—either because they couldn’t afford to or because it wasn’t necessary for the career they planned to pursue. Slowly, though, having a college degree became a necessity for almost any type of work. But now, many are once again questioning whether getting that little piece of paper is really worth it. The economy is doing better than it has in years, and universities may start finding it harder to recruit full-time students.

What other education issues do you see on the drawing board for universities in 2014? Share in the comments below!

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