Salient Trends in Higher Ed: More Retail, Shorter Programs, Less Public Funding


August 18, 2021                                                         

Contact: Tony Bieda, 703.399.9172

CSPEN Keynote address

Salient Trends in Higher Ed: More Retail, Shorter Programs, Less Public Funding

Chicago, Aug. 17: Dr. Wallace Pond told conferees at 2021 CSPEN* that colleges and universities are at significant risk if they are not attentive to the expanding retail nature of post-secondary education, the demand for shorter non-credit-bearing programs and declining reliance on public funding to cover tuition and fees.

The co-founder of the Transformation Collaborative, Pond provided an inventory of salient trends re-shaping the core of post-secondary education and the risk dynamics derived from the confluence of those trends.

“The powerful forces creating risk for traditional higher education include persistent student demand for delivery of instruction and services using remote modalities, and movement away from traditional calendars of attendance,” Pond said. “These forces were accelerated and fortified during the pandemic but make no mistake: they have manifested for years and simply gained momentum since March 2020. They are exacerbated by other forces such as demographics, unsustainable debt, and growing alternatives to traditional higher education.”

The salient forces shaping post-secondary education can be harnessed and accommodated through a deep, comprehensive regime of strategic transformation, Pond said. “But ignoring them or resisting them is no longer an option. Institutions that marginalize or deny the preferences of contemporary students and other structural changes will ultimately confront existential challenges if they haven’t already.”

Pond said “ultimately” is sooner than later for too many colleges and schools.

“Expect the unwelcome news of Fall 2020 to be more profound in Fall 2021,” he said. “Freshman enrollment declined 16% from the previous year. First time community college enrollment was down 23%; international enrollment fell by 43% and even Pell grant participation was off by 8%… literally, students were declining to be paid to go to college.”

“Simultaneously, more than 1,300 colleges and schools have closed since 2010, and current trends indicates that at least 300 private, non-profit institutions will merge or close in the next seven years.”

“The Transformation Collaborative represents a strong community of professionals and practitioners who are intensely attentive to the dimensions of these megatrends and their implications for post-secondary institutions,” Pond said. “They collaborate with each other and the institution to analyze, evaluate, deconstruct and reassemble effective post-secondary education from the ground up. Transformation requires courageous leadership, commitment of adequate resoures, and fidelity to data-driven evidence and best practices. These principles are the foundation from which the Transformation Collaborative brings services and accountability to client institutions.”

The Transformation Collaborative is comprised of more than seventeen advisors, functional experts, thought leaders and partners whose expertise covers the gamut of operational categories. A full prospectus is at

*More information about the Career Schools Private Education Network is available at