There’s never a dull moment in the higher education sector. This week, we had our eyes on a dozen interesting articles across higher education. As always, you’ll find an undercurrent of themes that generally revolve around revenue and student demographics. This week’s higher education notes and trends has topics ranging from wealth distribution amongst North American post-secondary institutions, “over-education” of millennials and enrollment staff becoming the next generation of corporate headhunters.

Does the “1%” of Wealth Distribution Apply to Higher Education?

Forbes published a very interesting read on wealth distribution in the higher education sector, drawing comparisons to the Occupy Movement’s “1%” argument.

The article draws on the 3,000 or so (depending on how you classify them) four-year college and universities in the United States, and how much annual endowment each receive. On average, each student in the United States equates to roughly $25,000 in endowment; however, top earning schools, Yale & Princeton average of $2,000,000 per student. Looking at the top 1% of schools (roughly 30 of the 3,000), total endowments equate to 52% of the total endowments for all United States schools. Long story short; the 1% of wealth distribution is very much a reality in higher education.

Millennials Expectation of Higher Education Not Aligned With Reality of the Job Market

The Ottawa Citizen reports a discouraging trend amongst the millennials of Canada; the disparity between over education and high expectations for the “dream job” vs. the reality of the job market. The article reports that 40% of Canadian university graduates aged 25-34 are overqualified for the jobs they have, with the numbers even worse for those under 25, with 65% being overqualified or unemployed.

The article does not quantify how these demographics are overqualified or by what metric(s) these statements were qualified. It does, however, speak to the problem being compounded by government and the higher education sector itself advocating for further education to solve the problem and the bias of those recommendations. Indeed the “over promise under deliver” sentiment is an issue in higher education, as we previously documented the sanctions now available in the US through the gainful employment regulations for institutions who have not or cannot validate the employment claims they advertise. These regulations were directly targeted at for-profit institutions whose aggressive marketing tactics have been known to misrepresent graduate outcomes; however, Inside Higher Ed is reporting that nonprofit higher education is not exempt from these sanctions.

Career Counsellors - The New “Headhunters?” 

The ability for businesses to find new ways to acquire revenue never ceases to amaze me. Our friends over at Inside HigherEd brought some unique insights into recruitment partnerships the higher education sector is now employing.

The article reports that prominent university and colleges are giving preferred access to students for organizations willing (and able) to pay for that luxury. On the surface, this seems like a win/win/win as the school gets revenue, the employer gets access to the best and brightest graduates and those graduates get direct access to the most prestigious employers (and theoretically, salaries). The school also gets the added benefit of having more graduates in “top employer” organizations, which brings prestige (and perhaps higher future alumni donations) for its graduates. The complaint of this approach is that less established organizations or those from the nonprofit sector who are not able to use such aggressive recruiting tactics are deprioritized.

With the constant report of reduced funding and other financial constraints, it should not be a surprise to see new and inventive ways to increase revenue.