The challenges and benefits of a career in higher education

Mar 15, 2020 by

Working in higher education is not for the faint of heart. The day-to-day challenges of working in a university and helping educate the next generation of students can be discouraging, but do the benefits of this type of career outweigh the potential negatives?

Decreased enrollment

Overall student enrollment is down. While there are multiple reasons for the reduction in enrollment, lower numbers means that there are staffing difficulties as universities struggle to bridge the gap. Staying competitive in your own education is important during this downturn in enrollment. Read more about how you can stay competitive in this type of culture.

Lower government funding

As if that weren’t bad enough, government entities are spending less overall in funding universities. Schools are scrambling to cut costs, which means that access to traditional student services is reduced. School administrators argue that the government has lost sight of the overall goal of higher education, but until government policies change universities are left trying to pick up the pieces.

Decrease in perceived need of higher education

Lastly, there is a movement against higher education in general. Some groups are arguing that students can learn just as much from studying under a teacher at university as they can through their own studies, such as by reading books or taking individual classes online. The pushback from society has meant that, in some cases, a degree is seen as an unnecessary expense and even a waste of time.

Despite this seemingly bleak outlook, the news is not all bad. In fact, if you are up for a challenge, working in higher education can have a lot of opportunities available.

Widespread availability of courses

Higher education is changing at light speed in an attempt to keep up with society. Online learning has taken the education world by storm, giving access to everyone from single mothers listening to lectures at midnight while their babies sleep in the other room to adults trying to balance going back to school while working full time in their current job. The opportunity for innovation in this field is endless, and universities have the chance to leverage this change to increase enrollment and meet students where they are.

Generous perks

While cuts are being made in general, benefits for those working in higher education are still generous. Working in higher education means some paid vacation while students are out of school, such as over spring and Christmas breaks, in addition to other holidays throughout the year. Faculty usually have access to on-campus services, such as the gym and cafeteria. Perhaps the largest benefits are related to tuition: many facilities offer free or reduced tuition for employees and their children. Some even allow faculty to pursue a degree on the university’s time. Whether furthering your education in your current field or learning something completely new, this benefit is nearly priceless.

Rising to the challenges

Lastly, universities are working to meet the challenges posed by the reduced funds. In fact, this article lists the reasons why government funding cuts may actually be a good thing.

Working in higher education has perhaps never been more difficult. But the challenges due to funding decreases and enrollment reduction can be met head-on by those who are willing to put in the work to find solutions and continue pushing higher education forward to provide benefits for students, teachers, and our society as a whole.

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