7 Higher Education Trends in 2021 that May Change the Future for Good

The human civilization will always remember 2020 as the year of the pandemic. Interestingly, 2020 also became the year when digital and tech solutions pushed creative boundaries and saved many industries. In 2021, it is clearer than ever that the education sector is ready for transformation in order to achieve more growth and meet the high expectations of the young generation of students.

From virtual learning to the demographic shift, higher education continues to change faster than people realize. But monumental shifts are helping colleges and universities evolve. In fact, most academic institutions now want to roll out growth-driven tech solutions to generate high ROI, ensure flawless operational activities, and satisfy the needs and concerns of young students.

Let’s take a look at the seven trends that represent opportunities for educational institutions:

1.    Mental Health Awareness

COVID-19 pandemic crisis took a mental and physical toll on the students taking classes remotely. In fact, American Psychological Association affirms that mental disorders among students are on the rise. A survey, however, highlights that people are more open to talk about mental health than before.

Long before the pandemic crisis, psychologists had already declared mental health issues as an epidemic and crisis. Since there is more broadmindedness towards the subject, colleges and universities are bound to roll out new initiatives about mental health awareness.

National Center of Education Statistics notes that most enrolled students in the higher education sector in the past two years suffer from some form of mental health issue. Whether it’s anxiety, eating disorder, addiction, depression, or suicide, educational institutions have a perfect opportunity to inform and educate Gen Z about mental health problems.

2.    Diversity of Students in Higher Education

In this day and age, colleges and universities can’t expect to achieve growth and stay on top of administrative tasks without diversity. From students to staff, diversity has become the key to maintain a competitive edge in the higher education industry.

Fortunately, educational institutions now want to foster a learning environment that ensures educational excellence. The objective of colleges and universities is to welcome students from diverse backgrounds and create exciting new opportunities.

In fact, educators now prioritize educational value without racial or ethnic preference. A diversified workforce and student body will serve as a mechanism for colleges and universities to break traditional barriers and push for innovation.

3.    Embracing AI-based Learning

AI has been around the discourse for more than a decade, but now it is ready to transform major industries. In the EdTech landscape, artificial intelligence and machine learning tools are already making headlines by helping students learn in an intuitive manner.

In 2021, colleges and universities can use AI-specific technologies to bridge the gap between students and campuses. More AI learning programs means more access to high-quality education. At its core, the AI learning model cuts out location and time barriers and sparks the curiosity of students to consume more information. AI learning tactics enable academic institutions to realize the full potential of students.

4.    Offering Open Online Courses

In time, more and more educational institutions will start to offer open online courses for a high volume of participants. One of the perks of these courses is that participants get full access and can access the content anytime and anywhere.

But colleges and universities have to be creative to offer better comprehensive online courses than famous online platforms. In 2021, open online courses will gain more foothold in higher education. Offering potential students comprehensive courses online has always been revolutionary and now it has the potential to transform the education sector.

5.    Adopting Online Learning Models

During the COVID-19 outbreak, online learning helped educational institutions continue administrative and educational activities. In the post-COVID-19 world, however, there is still a need to streamline the use of online learning. As of now, many colleges and universities already have a dedicated digital learning model. But online learning doesn’t necessarily serve as a contingency plan. Instead, it shifts basic traditional learning processes to online and helps students engage and learn better.

6.    Offering Virtual Reality Experiences

Although virtual reality in the education sector is not a new story, its prevalence in 2021 has become more common. In fact, VR could be a game-changer for the education sector in the foreseeable future. After all, it is an immersive technology that can revolutionize “how” students learn in the first place. At the moment, virtual reality investments continue to pour in and may set a new stage for higher education.

Essentially, VR boosts motivation and engagement and allows students to contextualize information through an experiential learning environment. Educational institutions can use virtual reality for deep learning in medical and science fields. The same technology can help teachers trigger elicit empathetic responses that would allow students to form a unique perspective.

7.    Lowering Tuition Fee

2020 broke the record unemployment rate due to continuous COVID-19 lockdowns. In the meantime, the student enrollment rate is also at an all-time low throughout the U.S. In light of extraordinary circumstances, many colleges and universities have decided to reset their standard tuition fee.

Educational institutions are also offering more scholarships in 2021 for graduate and post-graduate programs. Reduced fees and tuition will help colleges and universities to reverse the low enrollment rate and gain more upfront costs.

More Focus on Using New Technologies

Most trends revolve around new digital and tech solutions that colleges and universities would use t drive more growth. Plus, education institutions are aware of the tech-savvy preference of Gen Z and want to offer hybrid learning solutions that could work in favor of students.

As more professors and students use modern technologies, there are now endless ways to collaborate and communicate. On the other hand, educational institutions can utilize tech solutions to plan comprehensive curriculum and secure IT network infrastructure.

Wrap Up

The traditional approach of the education sector still exists, but invention and change no longer face resistance from the administration. In retrospect, colleges and universities want to streamline education initiatives and centralize administrative operations to maintain relevance in 2021 and beyond.




  1. https://precisioncampus.com/blog/trends-higher-education/
  2. https://www.keystoneacademic.com/news/the-evolution-of-higher-education-2021-trends
  3. https://www.insidetrack.org/resources/12-higher-ed-trends-to-watch-in-2021/
  4. https://precisioncampus.com/blog/trends-higher-education/
  5. https://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/research/top-10-it-issues-technologies-and-trends/trends-survey-glossary
  6. https://potomac.edu/higher-education-trends/
  7. http://www.fiuc.org/article28_en.html
  8. http://www.peer-pasternack.de/texte/trends_summary.pdf
  9. https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2021/04/expert-qa-which-higher-education-trends-will-outlast-pandemic

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