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What drives your degree

One way students can evaluate whether to invest in higher education is through potential wage premiums – namely if what students would earn with their education is higher than what they would earn without it. An important element in understanding the return on investment of higher education is the cost of the degree.

According to an educational article posted by Brookings, a nonprofit public policy organisation based in Washington DC which conducts in-depth research, the average wage premium in the EU and US for those with a tertiary education is approximately 60 to 75 per cent more than they could earn without the degree, while it is around 150 per cent in somemiddle-income countries like Brazil and Chile.

In addition to reduced funding, rising costs, and decreasing wage premiums, there is also the worry that what students learn at university will not necessarily give them the skills needed for the jobs available. This skills mis-match is particularly acute in fields like computer science where real-world practice easily outpaces academic curricula and most students feel caught at crossroads.

There are six notable trends:

Online education has become an increasingly accepted option.

Competency-based education (CBE) lowers costs and reduces time of study.

Income Share Agreements (ISAs) help students reduce risks about study loans.

Online Programme Manager (OPM) organisations benefit universities as well as working-adult students.

Enterprise training companies are filling the skills gap by working directly with employers.

Pathway programmes facilitate increasing transnational education as additional sources of revenue for universities.

There will undoubtedly be on-going opportunities for new approaches and actors to innovate in higher education as the sector continues to face high costs, decreasing returns on investment, and skills mis-matches.

Watching these six trends and how they develop over time will be interesting.