The motivation to learn is declining among students in higher education. Take traditional degrees as an example, as of January 2022, only 51% of Gen Z teens were interested in pursuing a four-year degree, down from 71% in May 2020.
The drop in motivation is having a significant impact on enrollment levels and completion rates. And higher education institutions are looking at ways to fix the problem.
What is causing this loss of enthusiasm? We have gathered some key reasons explored by educational experts.
Disruption of COVID-19
The move to online tuition during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an important disruptor. A large-scale shift to web-based learning started in early 2020 and it dramatically changed the academic experience. Many missed interacting with teachers and fellow students and have struggled to engage since.
Shift in recruitment criteria
Higher-education qualifications are not the passport to the best jobs as they once were – and students are aware of this. Some large companies have stopped requiring degrees altogether.
Former IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty, told The Economist that in 2012 less than 10% of all IBM jobs were open to those without degrees. She also suggested that as firms place more emphasis on hiring on skills rather than academic credentials, young people will require more options than a four-year university degree to develop the capabilities employers need.
Increasing debt burden
With more organizations shifting to skills-based hiring, combing with the increased fees and debt, if people were to go to college or university, they need to squeeze every dollar out of their investment.
What higher education institutions can do to stem the tide
There is no doubt that higher-education institutions are facing major challenges. Those that want to turn the situation around and stay competitive must work harder to raise the share of students who earn their diplomas. One way to achieve this is through implementing a digital credential program.
Digital credentials provide verified proof of a student’s competency and skills. They complement paper-based certificates, but because they are digital, they are data-rich. With the right platform, institutions can easily create, issue, and share digital credentials with their learners, helping students better bridge the gap between education and employment.
How digital credentials can motivate students
There are three main ways digital credentials can help with the challenges identified – helping students be more motivated, recognizing the value of higher education and equip them with the skills demanded in their industry relevant markets.
1) Provide recognition
Public recognition and awards have always been used in education to motivate students, and digital badges bring public recognition to the next level. Digital credentials that complement paper certificates acknowledge not only the knowledge gained in classes but also the in-demand soft skills students have acquired. This is especially true as digital credentials are easily shareable online, making it easier for more students to see a tangible outcome to the courses they find motivating and that people recognize learners' achievements.
2) Demonstrate in-demand soft skills
Not only can digital credentials serve as a point of pride, but they also offer a specific and verifiable record of a candidate's skills, including soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership. These are often difficult to assess through traditional methods such as resumes and interviews but are an increasingly critical factor in recruitment.
With digital credentials, students can easily demonstrate their skills and proficiencies in online profiles and resumes, helping them stand out from the crowd when employers assess their qualifications and skills in comparison to other candidates.
Institutions that utilize micro-credentialing also allow students to demonstrate mastery in a particular area and give potential employers the confidence they have the right level of skills and proficiency before they are hired.
3) Build an all-rounded online profile to support long-term career growth
According to a survey by CareerArc, 91% of employers reported using social media to screen job candidates, with 87% of those employers specifically using LinkedIn. With leading digital credentialing platforms like Acclaim, students can curate a robust professional profile that tells the complete story of their skills and achievements, whether earned from educational institutions, through on-the-job training, or even professional associations. Students who engage with digital credentials outside of their core degree are also demonstrating their commitment to continued learning, which will again help them stand out in the job market and position them well in the longer term.
By building a stronger connection between a student engaging in their studies and their post-education prospects, digital credentials boost motivation. They also help higher education institutions position themselves as modern and innovative. In addition, they show they are more closely aligned with the technical and softer skills employers now demand and understand and respond to student needs and interests.
The benefits of digital credentials can be far-reaching to any college or university. To find out more about the different benefits digital credentials can bring to students and all stakeholders in your institution, download our latest white paper, ‘How to engage higher education students using digital credentials’ below. You can also schedule a free demo to learn about digital credentials and Acclaim.