Across the nation higher education institutions face an arguably unprecedented slate of dire circumstances. From waning enrollment, to declining birth rates, to skyrocketing student debt, tuition, and the costs colleges bear to deliver degrees–the mainstream story is grim. 

But in our latest Hubbell Audiocast we probe beyond the headlines to explore the deeper issues shaping the higher education system today, and what solutions colleges and universities have for reframing the conversation and redefining their value.

In this edition, agency strategist Zach Hyder hosts Melody Rose, a higher education growth coach and governance consultant, and Hubbell President Ward Hubbell to break down what’s really happening within the walls of America’s higher ed institutions.

(Excerpt of this 33-minute audiocast below.)


Melody Rose: The world is changing. We always have to think about that when another sector starts stepping in to deliver education. What gap are they perceiving? What problem are they solving?

I go around the country and I talk to university trustees and university leadership teams about their business model, about strengthening their business model, and one of the things that we talk about is, “Why do you think there is Walmart University? Why do you think Starbucks is beginning to train it’s own? Why do you think these massive corporations are stepping into our sector, stepping onto our turf? It’s because from their perspective we have failed to deliver what they most need.

So, I think that those of us that spend our careers in higher education need to take that seriously. We need to ask ourselves, “What is the outcome that they think we are not providing?” We have to take an honest assessment of ourselves and say, “Are they right?” And if they are right, what are we going to do about it? And if they’re not right, and it’s just a matter of changing our communications, well then we ought to get on that!

Zach Hyder: So, are colleges and universities doing a good job of communicating their relevance, their value, things like how they are innovating?

Ward Hubbell: Some are, some aren’t.

In terms of the challenges that higher education faces, I think that universities need to be talking about those challenges but at the same time they need to be talking about the solutions that they are putting together for those challenges.

People aren’t too surprised that there are challenges out there, that there are problems out there, but we’ve all had that that boss that says, “Don’t walk in here with a problem without a solution.”

I think that higher education is no different. Higher education should be talking about what they offer, why it’s relevant in today’s world, and how they intend to evolve and change over time as they are looking around corners and predicting their reality five or ten years down the road. 

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