2024 higher ed predictions and recommended reading for educators

The higher education landscape has shifted more in the last few years than it has in the last few decades. As institutional leaders continue to manage everything from enrollment rates to educator retention, it’s helpful to stay up to date on the data, trends, and predictions that provide a high-level view of the industry. According to Wiley’s latest report, Higher Ed’s Next Chapter: 2023-2024 Trends, there are four crucial things for educators to expect in 2024 and beyond:

  1. More technology and artificial intelligence (AI) 

The flexibility of online learning and the capabilities of AI have given many students an educational advantage. However, educators have argued at length about the ethical implications of AI in college and university classrooms. The conversations around this are incredibly nuanced, and this latest data from Wiley can help educators and students navigate the changing tech landscape in 2024 and beyond:

  • 57% of instructors anticipate that AI tools and/or virtual reality will be important in delivering their courses three years from now
  • 60% of instructors are already somewhat or very familiar with generative AI tools
  • 45% of educators expect videos on course topics to be the most important tool for teaching within the next three years
  • 31% of instructors feel positively about AI use in colleges and universities
  • 80% of educators believe that generative AI tools will allow students to cheat more easily
  • 61% of instructors are actively seeking ways to maintain academic integrity with AI

Related reading:


The Rise of Ethical AI in Higher Education

Five Best Practices for Online Learning in Higher Education

Online Learning is Here to Stay: Three Lessons for Higher Education Leaders

  1. Concerns regarding student preparedness for the workplace 

The transition from college to the working world can be a rude awakening for some graduates. In fact, nearly 40 percent of recent grads believe their college or university did an inadequate job of preparing them for “the emotional or behavioral impact of the transition to the workplace.” A separate poll found that 44% of employers believe grads lack the soft skills needed to succeed at work. The solution, Wiley’s report says, may be found in more real-world and soft-skills training. Here’s a breakdown of the data:

  • While 64% of educators believe their institution is preparing students well for employment in the “real world,” only 46% of students believe they’re being adequately prepared
  • 25% of students would like more real-world, application-based, experiential learning
  • 77% of students consider soft-skills training an important part of their ideal education
  • 42% of professionals (mostly managers and supervisors) say new hires lack technical skills
  • 61% of instructors want to help students understand how to apply lessons in the real world
  • 56% of instructors consider preparing students for their future careers as a class goal
  • 46% of educators expect increased demand for students to earn credentials/certifications


Related reading:

Employers Say College Grads Aren’t Prepared for Work. Here’s Why.

Top 10 Soft Skills College Grads Need for the 2022 Workforce (and Beyond)

There’s a Skills Gap in the US. Are Vocational and Technical Schools the Answer?


  1. The search for more meaningful careers among students 

According to a study by James Rounds and Rong Su, a person’s interests are powerful enough to predict their career performance and success. In the context of higher education, this concept has the potential to positively impact student success as well. If students clearly understand their interests and skills, they are more likely to select (and stick with) a field of study that fulfills them. Wiley reports that:

  • 38% of students who transferred did so because their previous school didn’t offer the major they wanted
  • The percentage of students who are unsure about their major or future career skyrocketed from 9% in 2021 to 21% in 2022
  • 46% of students want to work for a company with values and beliefs similar to their own
  • Why students chose their major:
    • 57% say it seemed interesting enough to make a career
    • 46% say it would help them pursue a variety of potential career options
    • 42% say it would lead to careers with high earning potential
    • 41% say it would enable them to have a positive impact
    • 39% say it would prepare them for a high-demand career

Related reading:


Do Your Childhood Interests Match Your Career Path?

Higher Education’s “Interesting” Role in Student Engagement and Success

To Increase Retention, Higher Education Must Focus on Persistence First


  1. The prioritization of student needs despite educator workload 

While there’s certainly a mental health dilemma among college students, educators have their own fair share of challenges to overcome – including burnout. In fact, colleges and universities are at risk of losing more than half of their current employees. According to a recent Higher Education Employee Retention Survey, 57% of higher education faculty and staff members are at least somewhat likely to quit their jobs within the next year. Here’s what educators expect to deal with in the coming year:

  • 44% of instructors feel like they’re being asked to do more with less support and/or resources
  • 38% of educators say they are being paid in proportion with their needs and expectations
  • 37% of instructors say they spend too much time on tasks unrelated to teaching or research
  • 37% of educators are achieving a good work/life balance
  • 68% of instructors consider student engagement a problem to solve
  • 59% of instructors consider student engagement a goal to reach
  • 67% of instructors would like to make a lasting impact on students

Related reading:


Retain and Retrain: The Role of Interests in Educator Retention

Three Tips for College and University Leaders to Increase Educator Retention

Four Thoughtful Concepts to Improve Persistence at Your College or University

2024 higher ed predictions and recommended reading for educators

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