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Section One: The Industry’s Journey

July/August 2019

By Business Officer editors

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In what ways can higher education respond to external changes and circumstances beyond its control?

In recent years, the pace of change in higher education has been brisk, compelling many institutions to prepare themselves for rapid shifts in several areas. Continued disruption to traditional funding sources and structures, an ever-shifting regulatory environment, and new accreditation requirements barely scratch the surface of the myriad factors influencing how higher education must conduct business.

Part of the unfolding story of the industry’s evolution is the way students learn. Higher education is now under pressure not just to deliver a quality education successfully, but also to prove its value to its consumers and constituents.

Perhaps the greatest impact on higher education’s next chapter will come from how institutions respond to the changing demographic makeup of students. As the authors of “Seismic Shifts” assert, changes to the geographic distribution, age composition, racial and ethnic mix, and living arrangements across the nation’s population will significantly impact how the industry recruits, educates, and serves its next generation of learners and how higher education prepares its own leadership for the task.

Meeting these challenges in an era of sustained underinvestment by states and the federal government may require the greatest innovation from higher education yet.

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