More than two-thirds of college deans in a recent survey said that in just 10 years, they believe higher education institutions will be markedly different from how they are today.

The survey from 2U, Inc. and the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership aims to assess more than 100 college deans’ views on innovation in higher education.

“The deans are confident about the future of the U.S. higher education system but less so about the ability of traditional institutions to adapt to what’s coming,” said Jeffrey J. Selingo, founding director of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership and author of the study. “They don’t think their institutions are moving quickly enough to change their business model and their teaching practices to relate to a new generation of students.”

College deans said they feel confident in the U.S. higher education system and its standing in the world, and most feel confident in its ability to maintain a leadership position over time, according to the survey. They also feel that their institutions will be different in the future.

(Next page: Deans’ opinions on online learning)

Sixty-one percent of college deans surveyed said they believe that the U.S. higher education system will be the best or one of the best in the world in 10 years.

More than two-thirds of college deans surveyed said that a decade from now, the U.S. higher education system will be much different than it is today.

Overall, surveyed deans said they believe universities are capable of and fostering innovations but are concerned about the direction of U.S. higher education and their own ability to respond to change.

Seventy-eight percent of college deans surveyed believe U.S. colleges and universities are doing a good, very good or excellent job of fostering academic innovation. Despite that, only one in four surveyed think the U.S. higher education system is heading in the right direction.

Thirty-seven percent of college deans surveyed described the pace of change at their own institutions as “too slow.” Deans surveyed cite lack of money being the biggest hurdle to change, followed by resource constraints on faculty and staff and a resistance or aversion to change.

Nearly all deans (91 percent) believe there will be an increase in online education programs at their institution to increase in the next decade.

Deans were divided on whether faculty members get enough support in teaching courses online–43 percent said faculty are getting shortchanged in how much help they get in rethinking their courses and teaching with technology, while 40 percent said they believe they are getting enough support and 14 percent are neutral.

One-third of deans agree online courses are comparable to face-to-face courses, and roughly the same proportion said they disagree.

The survey findings are from the responses of 109 deans of four-year colleges and universities in March and April 2017. Of the respondents, 61 percent were from public universities and 60 percent have been in their jobs at least five years.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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