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Published On: Tue, Oct 12th, 2021

Why Aren’t We Seeing a Rise in Academic Enrollment?

Just like other industries and economic sectors, education is now facing significant changes, as a series of factors converge. The COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of new industries, the inability of the traditional education sector to keep up the pace with the new requirements in the labor market, and the shift towards online education, are the main drivers of these changes. 

The impact of the pandemic

One of the recent major events that reshaped how the world functions is COVID-19. According to a piece written by Kasia Kovacs at Best Colleges, college enrollment had already been declining by 2% in the fall of 2019. However, as the pandemic hit, first-year enrollment dropped by another 13%.

photo/ Jan Vašek

As travel restrictions were being imposed around the globe, young people were left with Zoom classes which were far from ideal, and the dropout rate from academic institutions hit all-time highs. Learning abroad at reputed universities also became impossible. Restrictions have eased since and numbers are expected to show some recovery in 2021, but the pandemic is expected to leave its marks on the education sector. 

Unfortunately, larger enrollment declines are seen among underprivileged student populations, while the data also shows fewer low-income students have applied for financial aid in 2021. 

Alternative industries emerging

Technology is reshaping the world and demand for new types of jobs is pushing people towards unconventional educational resources, as experts at WebAcademyst are highlighting. Several years ago, the concept of working as a blockchain analyst, telemedicine physician, cloud architect, drone operator, or social media influencer did not exist at all. 

Alt-text: traditional education vs. new industries

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/classroom-school-education-learning-2093744/

All of these jobs require particular skills and people need to adapt on the go as fast as they can, and spending a few years to get a new degree does not fit into an already crowded working schedule.  

Shifting towards e-learning

The way students learn now has changed significantly, given that over 6 million people around the world are pursuing higher education through online courses. Now that brands like WebAcademyst have emerged, it is possible to learn skills and acquire valuable knowledge from any place, with only an internet connection and a device as basic as a smartphone.

Shifting towards e-learning methods has been embraced by large universities as well. Duke and Cornell began to launch online certifications in the ‘90s and by 2010, there were over 3 million online students in the USA alone. 

E-learning is an industry that’s in constant change as well. Gamification, microlearning, AR classrooms, AI professors, and VR graduations might be part of the not-too-distant future. Some of the latest estimates predict that the e-learning market will be worth approximately $325 billion in 2025, doubling its size as compared to 2015 figures. 

Can lower academic enrollment figures have a negative impact on future education or will e-learning gradually replace it successfully? That is still unknown and it will all depend on a series of factors, like people’s willingness to learn without teachers, the quality of the new resources, and also the efficiency of e-learning. For now, both pros and cons can be spotted in terms of digitalization in the education camp.

Author: Waris Ali

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