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Learning Trends 2021: Where and How to Get a Degree

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Startup Jedi

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The pandemic has had a profound impact on everyone, and even more so on the education sector. The world's largest EdTech project K12 has grown by 157% since March 2020, and universities have en masse switched to online education. But experts say that this market had been changing before, and the pandemic simply accelerated its growth. Let's figure out what other edu trends have taken shape by the end of 2021. Spoiler —  express courses have not yet replaced a university diploma.

Getting a degree at 30, 40 or 50 is not pointless

Some people struggle to understand what they want to do in life right after school. According to HeadHunter, 94% of respondents want to change jobs because of low salaries and are ready to study to do so. But for many, the time spent on training seems meaningless: "I will study for several years, and by the time I finish it’s about time I retired ...".

But adult education isn't always about changing careers. You can comprehend new professions for the benefit of the one you are currently doing. For example, it is useful for a project manager in IT to understand the basics of coding, it would be good for a marketer to understand psychology, while copyright and jurisprudence could come in handy for a PR manager.

You can gain interdisciplinary knowledge in a field close to yours, and then apply for a promotion or transfer to another department. The training won’t take years, this can be done within months or even weeks.

According to estimates, by 2030 more than 100 interdisciplinary specialties (at the junction of two professions) will appear. Thus, bioethics, computational linguistics, and jurisprudence in robotics already exist. 

At the University of Bristol, for example,  interdisciplinarity is introduced through the teaching of one discipline by professors from different fields. These courses are compulsory for all students. At the University of Central Florida, Central European University, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University a student can design their own "interdisciplinary" profession.

Student loans are new investment

In the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand 60% of students use student loans. And it is no wonder as 4 years of study at an ordinary American college cost about $ 105,000.

In our region, students are not so willing to take on student loans. Although there are enough offers.

  • Even a 14 year old can get one in Russia at 3%.

  • In Belarus, you can get a student loan only at state universities.

  • Poland tries to fight unpopular student loans by offering good conditions. Students are offered monthly loans regardless of income level. You can choose an amount from 400 to 1,000 zlotys, and pay off the debt two years after graduating and, if necessary, in small payments.

MBA financing is a separate story. This is a program that prepares senior and middle managers, and you need to study for at least 2 years. Only practicing managers with work experience of over 2-3 years can enroll in the program.

MBA's at the world's top universities start at $ 100,000, but the average salary of graduates shows that spending pays off in the first year.

For example, online tuition at Warrington, a business school of the University of Florida, is about $ 109,000, and the average salary for a graduate in the program will be $133 937 per year. According to statistics, 35% of MBA graduates get a senior manager position within 2-4 years, and 11% start their own business.

Financial Times published a list of the world's best programs that included Warwick Distance Learning MBA, Kelley Direct Online Programs and Maryland Smith Online MBA. Some of them are available online.

In Belarus you can get your MBA at BSU Institute of Business, and Academ.by business school in partnership with the Polish Kozminski University. The cost of a General MBA is approximately $ 14,700 for 18 months. There are several private programs in Ukraine, one of which costs about $27 000.

When choosing a program, pay attention to accreditation. The best one is AACSB (Academ.by). There are two more accreditations  that are recognized in the world —  AMBA and EFMD. 

Vitaliy Zhikhartsev, an associate professor at the Kiev Institute of Banking and a representative of the Swiss business school SMBS in Ukraine, says it’s important to understand the difference between a general MBA and that of a narrow profile. In the first case, the program takes up to 2-3 years and offers basic knowledge in economics, law, personal development and management. The second case is industry-specific programs for a specific profession, for example: Mini MBA (business and management), Executive MBA (EMBA) for top managers and others.

What’s the future of education

The pandemic has boosted the EdTech industry a lot. According to the estimates of Aleksey Polekhin, director of the platform for teaching Internet professions and online courses "Netology" «Netology», some companies that provide additional education today are growing 2-3 times a year, which is already a standard growth plan for this area during the pandemic. And the lockdown simply accelerated this process as many potential clients had nothing to do at home, someone lost their main job and wanted to learn new things.

IT has become the most popular area of online education with 34% of students choosing it, which creates new competition. There are more and more specialists, and in order to stay at the top in a profession, you need to constantly learn new things. Alexander Tregub, founder of the Projector School and Telegraf.design media is confident that in the future, online courses in IT will not be available for everyone. If earlier schools invited Juns, now they will focus on professionals who need to keep growing.

However, express learning is unlikely to supplant fundamental programs. Courses from bloggers and 15-minute lessons on YouTube are no longer trendy as the audience is finally convinced that success cannot be achieved easily and quickly. On the other hand, Inna Chut, general producer of the international online school Laba sees a perspective in microlearning (small educational products tailored to specific user requests). A good example is the Telegram-bot Marketing Simulator by the “Baggage” school of marketing and communications.

Complementing this with an evidence-based, scientific approach to pedagogy, Ivan Primachenko, co-founder of Prometheus online courses, confirms that teaching is no longer an art and is increasingly based on the analysis of student data.

 5 trends of «higher education» 

Some trends are encompassing education en masse. They apply to a variety of geographical regions, and are relevant for both private programs and public universities.

  1. Blended format (online+offline)

The online format has not replaced offline learning. Lockdown has shown that not everyone is technically prepared for such a change. Putting a teacher with chalk and a whiteboard in Zoom just doesn't work. Mixed format is the best solution, mixing online lectures, face-to-face seminars with networking and one-to-one sessions.

This format has been applied in the West for a long time. A popular example is the University of Minerva. It does not have a campus and staff of teachers, lectures are delivered by invited speakers, students change 7 cities in 4 years: San Francisco, London, Berlin, Taipei, Hyderabad, Buenos Aires and Seoul.

  1. Life-long learning

Universities offer retraining or advanced training, but the deadlines can be over a year. In the West, this problem was solved with the help of Certificate Programs, which allow you to acquire new skills in an academic setting in 3-10 months. Thus, The University of Liverpool offers to improve knowledge in IT in 10 months. You can pay for your studies in installments and get a 15% discount.

Roughly the same programs are now offered at the Higher School of Economics. For example, you can get an «SMM 2.0» in 12 weeks. Indeed, if this month you are just a project manager, and tomorrow you have to replace a colleague who launches target advertising, you have to study all the time.

  1. Meta-Subjects

There was interdisciplinarity in universities before. For example, there are IT lawyers and UX / UI designers, who work at the intersection of two areas. Now it looks like this —  doctors and teachers study HR and KPIs, and IT specialists work on enterprise management skills and business process modeling.

  1. Business-University Cooperation 

Business is all about convenient format, relatively low cost and short training times. Universities have reputation, trust of the older generation and fundamental knowledge. There is nothing better than teaming up and making a good product. Such online training in Russia has already been launched in the following institutions:

  1. VR-technology

In the West, VR technologies help to apply your knowledge in practice. Yale University is training for cholecystectomy, which has proven to be effective ― the group using VR was 29% faster  and less likely to make mistakes.

There are also promises to implement a similar approach in Russia with 5,5 billion rubles allocated to be spent on digital technologies in education.

So what is learning in 2021?

So here’s a short conclusion of the trends:

  • Education remains a valuable investment in yourself.

  • Learning all your life is trendy.

  • One profession is not for a lifetime.

  • But even one profession requires a broad range of skills.

  • Technology, data and new approaches help find the most appropriate format and field.

And despite the large number of new approaches, time has shown that they will be successful only in conjunction with proven techniques. Microproducts will not perform well without listeners' networking, and online education deprives them of personal contact. But the variety of options suggests that now you can definitely study all your life. And if suddenly at the age of 30 you realize that the field you have chosen is not suitable —  there is a course, retraining program or master's degree that will help you identify your strengths.

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