Top Priority for Higher Education Execs Shifts to Career Outcomes

EAB™ releases annual Future of Online and Professional Education Survey results

May 19, 2015, 10:46 ET from The Advisory Board Company

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Improving how institutions track career outcomes has emerged as the highest priority for senior executives of online and professional higher education programs, according to the annual Future of Online and Professional Education Survey from EAB.  This is a shift from previous years, when organizing and funding a new program launch was the top priority.  EAB provides research, technology, and services to more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide. 

In the survey, 95% of respondents expressed interest in better tracking graduates' career outcomes.  Schools are seeking to develop more sophisticated and inclusive metrics for career success.  Today, institutions primarily look at average salary data for graduates or whether or not students got a job after graduation.  Executives want to be able to show student success over time–especially important as students seek to understand better how schools can help change or advance their careers.  

Understanding how their students fare in the workforce post-graduation allows program and marketing directors to tweak program content, improve messaging to prospective students, and make a stronger case to employers as higher education institutions compete for diminishing tuition reimbursement dollars.

"The survey results underscore the importance of preparing students for lifelong career success," said Scott Fassbach, Chief Research Officer at EAB.  "Institutions are clearly responding to contemporary learner demands for flexible, personalized, and effective education options."

Additionally, short-format, alternative credentials for students changing careers, like certificates and digital badges, are garnering intense interest from senior executives---and the survey suggests a doubling of such offerings over the next five years.  Close to 50% of respondents plan to add customizable certificates to their portfolio in the next five years, compared to the 4% of respondents who currently offer this type of credential.  Thirty percent of respondents plan to offer digital badges in the next five years.   

"Millennials---poised to represent three-quarters of the workforce by 2025 and expected to average 20 jobs over the course of their lifetimes---are approaching professional education differently," said Carla Hickman, Practice Manager at EAB.  "They are seeking short-format courses and credentials for 'just-in-time' and 'just enough' education."

For its annual Future of Online and Professional Education Survey, EAB surveyed 85 senior executives of continuing, online, and professional education in spring 2015.  Survey questions are based on EAB's thousands of annual research interviews with higher education executives and insights from more than 1,000 EAB members.

About EAB 
Launched in 2007, EAB is a division of The Advisory Board Company.  Through the firm's innovative membership model, EAB helps solve the most pressing problems of academic and administrative higher education leaders by drawing on insights from its more than 1,000 members spanning two-year and four-year schools.  For more information, visit

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SOURCE The Advisory Board Company