Students Want Employability and Career Growth From Post-Secondary Education

Posted By Terri Williams on June 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm
Students Want Employability and Career Growth From Post-Secondary Education

Attitudes about college education are shifting – and that’s due at least in part to a changing workforce. Gone are the days of employees beginning and ending their careers at the same company. And that means students want to learn skills that will help them remain relevant in an ever-evolving workplace.

According to a recent study conducted by Zogby Analytics and commissioned by Laureate Education, students want a radically different post-secondary experience in the future. The survey, which includes responses from over 20,800 students in 21 countries, reveals some universal opinions about issues and expectations in higher education.

The survey provides of snapshot of what students want from colleges and universities within the next 15 years, including matters like course design and schedules, delivery methods, job preparation and treatment and more. These findings are important because they reflect the mindset of those who are poised to make decisions that will shape the post-secondary experience of the future.

Below are some of the major results of the survey, showing what students think education of the future should be:


Survey respondents expect universities of the future to prepare students to succeed in the workplace.

  • 70% think career-oriented skills (not just subject matter) will be taught
  • 64% predict courses will be taught in several languages to improve students’ ability to work anywhere in the world
  • 60% believe most courses will be designed by industrial experts to prepare students for jobs with their companies
  • 55% think potential employees place more value on their performance at internships or apprenticeships than on individual academic performance
  • 45% envision most courses being designed by entrepreneurs who are paid by participants

Accessible and innovative

Surveyed students believe in the transformative power of technology, and they expect colleges and universities to harness this power.

  • 68% predict free online libraries will house course materials, books, and other reference tools
  • 59% think students will use social media platforms to learn and teach other students
  • 43% believe online content will be offered for free
  • 43% expect personalized instruction or training to be available online


Respondents know that employers emphasize teamwork, and they want universities to reflect the value of group efforts.

  • 61% believe grades will be based more on team contributions than individual academic performance
  • 54% predict most courses will be collaborations between students/group projects


Students expect that in the future, universities will allow them to take courses at their own pace. They also feel that degrees are both temporary and static, and they think that their education should involve more certifications and re-certifications as they move from one job to another.

  • 52% think most courses will be offered at all times of the day and night
  • 40% believe students will be able to earn specialized certificates through their careers, as opposed to concentrated two-and four-year degrees

Students have great expectations for the future of higher education. Colleges and universities need to start planning strategically to move in a new direction if they expect to keep up.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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