Students Say Postsecondary Education of the Future Should Focus on Employability and Career Growth

Baltimore, M.D.—Monday, June 9, 2014—Students believe postsecondary education must focus in the future on graduates’ employability and career growth, according to the largest global survey of university students’ attitudes ever conducted.

Laureate Education, Inc., commissioned Zogby Analytics, a leading international opinion research firm, to survey students at 37 Laureate network institutions in 21 countries. More than 20,800 students responded to the survey, making it the largest international survey ever of student attitudes.

“Gone are the days of an individual staying with the same company for his or her entire career; the future belongs to innovators and those who can succeed in an ever-evolving marketplace,” said Douglas L. Becker, chairman and chief executive officer of Laureate Education, Inc. “This survey demonstrated that the primary focus of university education — especially in the developing world — is to prepare students for work. In every country surveyed, the primary objective that students demand from education is a real-world application of the skills they learn.”

In their survey responses, the students expressed the belief that the “university of the future” will be accessible, flexible, innovative and job-focused. The students foresee classes being offered at a variety of times throughout the day and year, courses being affordable and online, and learning being a lifelong process through degree and certificate programs that are geared to market needs.

Some of the specific findings of the survey include:

Nearly half(43 percent) of respondents believe that the university of the future will provide content online for free for most courses, and more than half (59 percent) believe that students will use social media platforms to learn and, in turn, teach other students. In addition, more than two-thirds (68 percent) believe that universities in the future will maintain free online libraries where students can access course materials, books and other reference tools.

Most (52 percent)of the respondents believe that most courses will be offered at all times of the day or night, and 44 percent believe that most courses will be offered without fixed schedules to accommodate students who work or simply prefer learning at nontraditional times. Forty-one percent of the respondents believe future university students will be able to earn specialized certificates throughout their careers, allowing them to take courses at their own pace instead of concentrating academic careers into two- or four-year spans culminating in a degree.

More than half (54 percent) of the students predict that the university of the future will provide courses that are collaborations between students, with an emphasis on group projects. Additionally, 43 percent believe that students will be able to access personalized instruction or tutoring online, perhaps rendering the traditional classroom experience less important.

The respondents see the university of the future as clearly focused on producing graduates who are prepared to excel in jobs that are needed by industry and society. Sixty-one percent believe that most courses offered by future universities will be designed by industry experts, and 64 percent predict courses will be offered in multiple languages. More than 70 percent think career-oriented skills (not just subject matter) will be taught in future universities.

“In light of our global economy, the archetypal postsecondary education system needs to be rethought, and these students are pointing us in a direction of inclusiveness and job-focused learning,” Becker said. “At Laureate, we’re proud of the impact our students and alumni are making in their communities, and we’re looking forward to providing future students with the education and skills they need to be successful in our changing world.”

Student response to the survey, particularly from developing countries in Latin America and Asia, showed a remarkably consistent view of the future. Seventy-two percent of all students in developing countries believe that the potential changes to what kinds of courses will be taught in the future will be better for students, while only 5 percent think that they will be worse for students. Ninety percent of these students are either paying for their education themselves or through their family, and one in three respondents is the first in his or her family to pursue postsecondary education.

“It was striking to see the similarities students in vastly different parts of the world held when considering the future of education,” said Jonathan Zogby, chief executive officer of Zogby Analytics. “Students believe that the ‘university of the future’ must prepare students for the needs of the job market, not simply provide them with general course study. It was also heartening to see that students have a generally optimistic view of the future of university learning.”

About Laureate Education, Inc.
Laureate Education is the world’s leading higher education provider. Laureate’s more than 75 universities educate over 850,000 students in 29 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Laureate’s universities offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in fields such as architecture, business, engineering, hospitality management, law and medicine. In 2014, the Laureate network is celebrating its 15th anniversary. To learn more, visit