Declining support from federal and state levels have been pushing universities to seek growth in new ways.
Where institutions once got funding from local resources, they now need to seek new opportunities to expand their curriculum, services and programs on campus. We recently spoke with Dr. Sven Schütt, CEO of IU International University of Applied Sciences on our podcast (which you can listen to here) about his ambitious goal of creating the largest university in the world, and why something like that might be beneficial to society. Check out some key takeaways on why fast growing institutions might find greater success below:
There is no question that the world is changing. Degree programs that were relevant several decades ago are often not relevant now, especially in science and technology fields. Funding and growth gives institutions room to experiment with new courses and degree programs, which enables them to hire a more diverse set of scholars and contribute to the growing academic landscape.
Emerging technologies such as Blockchain, for example, are often underrepresented in the academic world despite seeing exponential growth in the real world. Blockchain currently only has several degree programs at institutions around the world, and even then the education programs within them still have room to grow.
Students that wish to get ahead on emerging technologies may seek programs in these fields, or seek classes that can help them apply emerging technologies to their current field of study. Classes for art and music students on the use-cases of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), for example, could help them earn a living as an artist after graduation.
Outside of the classroom, growth can push students to create a more diverse set of clubs and organizations on campus. Clubs and organizations help students feel more welcomed on campus, and can introduce them to lifelong friends and networking connections that could help them get the most out of their campus experience. New organizations and clubs also include new sports programs, which can generate additional income for an institution through partnerships and rankings.
Growing institutions are often able to invest in new facilities, or to update existing facilities that are either outdated or in need of repair. Prospective students will be impressed by expansions and changes made on campus to update the facilities, and existing students will feel as if they’re being paid attention to as well.
Finally, Dr. Schütt emphasized the opportunity that comes with growth in being able to help students that previously would not have had access to your institution. Growth and funding provide more opportunity, and institutions that allocate a percentage of that funding to diversifying their student body and offering opportunities to students that don’t have the money or access can help make the world a more equitable environment.
Ways to Grow
Institutions can gear toward growth by diversifying their programs and classes. Prospective students want to have a lot of options in the classes that they take, and growth in this area will help attract new applicants year over year. On campus, existing students will be grateful and enthused by new classes that come to campus each semester. Institutions can get creative, as well, and incorporate local outdoor activities into class schedules.
When determining how and where to grow, focus on increasing enrollment targets in specific fields of study. Students want to feel that they’re being paid attention to, and meeting their individual needs will help them feel as if they can trust they’ll get a good education at your institution.
It’s a good idea to focus equally on transfer students as well. Transfer students have a unique set of needs when moving to a new institution, and often have to navigate changes on their own or with very little help. Additionally, many transfer students are coming from community colleges or more affordable two-year schools to finish their degrees. Providing a smooth transition to transfer students can help encourage students that didn’t have the resources to attend your university before feel more empowered in enrolling in your school.
Improving on-campus facilities, clubs, organizations and programs can help retain students throughout the entirety of their degree up to graduation. By increasing student retention right now, you’re incentivizing students to apply to your institution in the future which will only encourage more growth later on.
Seeking alumni funding is one way to encourage growth on campus, but equal lf not more focus should go into how you can expand your services already in order to make your institution seem more inviting or rewarding to attend in the future. Institutions that seem genuine about wanting their students to succeed both on campus and after graduations tend to get a better reputation. There are lots of ways to assure student success, whether it’s encouraging students to pursue alternative career paths like freelancing, giving them the tools they need to pursue careers in emerging technologies, or even just offering a diverse set of clubs on campus.