As we kick off 2019, it is crucial to understand how higher education will evolve in the coming year. As concerns about government funding and the transition of students skills into the workplace remain at the forefront, we will see many new approaches and trending topics take shape this year. From technology to the workplace, to students and what skills they are learning, here are just a few of the major players we will see in higher education in 2019.


As government funding continued to decrease in 2018, many institutions turned to receive funds and donations from private donors. The combination of decreased funding from the state and government mixed with an increase of spending on amenities to attract students have resulted in higher tuition costs and the need for outside funding and gifts from private donors. From July 2017 to June 2018, The Chronicle of Higher Education announced that over 50 million dollars was awarded to colleges and universities through thirty-two private gifts. Colleges around the nation have also undertaken campaigns to fundraise for their school. Last year, led by volunteers and a team of development staff, the University of Michigan raised $5 billion through a fundraising campaign. The largest fundraising effort to date took place at Harvard University, who after five years completed their campaign raising $9.6 billion.

Online Courses and OPMs

The appeal of online courses will continue to rise among students in 2019. Over the last 15 years, enrollment for online education courses has all but quadrupled. Many students are turning to online courses and degrees not only because it is more cost efficient than most in-school programs, but because it also offers flexibility into their schedules. Several universities are now offering full masters programs online at a fraction of the cost to attend a full-time program on campus. As the rise for online courses continues, many universities are turning to Online Program Managers, or OPMs, to help build and maintain their offerings. OPMs work to put a university’s content online and lead marketing efforts.

Credentials and Soft Skills

As technology continues to advance, the importance of soft skills – like the ability to communicate and think critically – will become more important to employers than traditional hard skills learned throughout degree programs. Hiring managers will seek out skills that are adaptable to a changing environment. We will see this progress as new credentials will be designed to address employers specific needs. Many colleges will partner with outside organizations to offer blended programs and certificate opportunities.