An article from the Chicago Tribune, published a few days ago, highlights the difficulties that some American colleges face, due to falling enrolment. It seems that an increasing number of high-school graduates drop out of university because of the steep rise in net cost, and because it is more difficult to find a job after a degree.
One reason for this is the financial crisis that impacted the western markets after the collapse in 2008. This phenomenon is clearly felt in Italy, too. The report “Italia in cifre 2015” by the Italian Institute of Statistics, Istat, registered a decline in enrolments in our country.
This idea is also recalled in an article published in Time magazine, which concludes that university is still worth the money spent in loans, and helps in finding that dream job. A poll of 30,000 college alumni found that the vast majority of college graduates (77% ) agreed that their education was worth the cost. Only the recent graduates who took out more than $50,000 in loans were unlikely to agree that their degrees were worth what they paid.
Nevertheless, a degree is also useful to obtain better earnings.
According to the prestigious Pew Research Center, high school graduates earn about 62% of what those with four-year degrees earn. A sharp contrast with 1979, when people with only high school educations earned 77% of what college graduates made.
It is not that college graduates are earning much more, but rather that the incomes and economic opportunities for high-school-only graduates have collapsed.
The rise of MOOCs played a key role in determining the change in the educational paradigm of the university. The number of people enrolled in free, online courses offered by prestigious universities, the so-called “nanodegrees”, is increasing, according to the author of the article in the Chicago Tribune.
The purpose of university, then, should be revised on the basis of its educational role, which changes over time. It is not conceivable to still offer students old-fashioned programs, that they are unlikely to reuse in the labour market. What we need to do is to offer a general, gradual and professional growth experience , capable of awakening different interests and of help students to find a job they truly love and that makes them genuinely happy. No matter what crisis may arise.