The 7 biggest challenges in higher ed, according to 2,000 faculty

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The 7 biggest challenges in higher ed, according to 2,000 faculty

Faculty across North America are concerned about the future of higher education, according to the 2018 Top Hat-sponsored Professor Pulse survey.

Top Hot surveyed nearly 2,000 faculty teaching at colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. Among the faculty surveyed, 58% were full-time professors, 24% were adjunct professors, and the rest were part-time lecturers, department chairs, and deans.

Surveyed faculty ranked the following as the biggest issues they’re facing at their own institutions:

  1. Insufficient funding (60%)
  2. Maintaining or increasing academic standards (41%)
  3. Decreased enrollment (35%)
  4. Student retention (32%)
  5. Staffing (31%)
  6. Completion (23%)
  7. Graduates not being ready for employment (18%)

Among faculty’s top concerns, insufficient funding takes the lead. In fact, 41 states spend less per student on higher education today than they did 10 years ago, according to a recent report by the American Federation of Teachers. State spending will likely continue to shrink under the Trump administration, predicts the report. “The administration’s proposals for 2018 and 2019 were the largest education budget cuts proposed since the creation of the Department of Education,” the report reads.

4 steps to engage faculty in the new budget reality

About a third of respondents are concerned about decreased enrollment (35%) and student retention (32%). As 87% of respondents indicate that the cost of tuition is too high, faculty may worry that tuition costs are preventing some students from enrolling. Faculty also say that students are more distracted now than ever before (87%) and that apathy among students is on the rise (60%).

Graduates’ career readiness was the least common concern among respondents. Faculty feel somewhat confident that higher ed effectively prepares students for the job market, according to the survey. Respondents rate the current higher ed system at a 6.69 out of 10 for career preparation effectiveness. But just 51% believe post-secondary education is necessary to a person’s success in life.

Surveyed faculty also expressed concern about the Trump administration’s influence over higher ed in the United States, with 74% of faculty indicating that the current administration is having a negative impact on the future of higher ed (Sykes, Axios, 8/12; Professor Pulse report, accessed 8/20).

Also see: Trying to grow enrollment, revenue, or program offerings? Here are 3 common mistakes you might be making