May 18, 2023

What We’re Seeing – May 2023 Edition

Ian shared sentiments about key themes and trends in education strategy with several groups this month. As we wrap up multiple strategic planning and research projects, the following six themes came into full view this year for ISA:

  1. Governance as an institutional leadership function has trended upward this past year. Boards appear to be functioning at a higher level, using more time to think generatively, focus on external issues, and dive more deeply into the salient issues facing education. Of course, there are those institutions still struggling with governance, but it appears that post-pandemic leadership is trending in the right direction.

  2. Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality, are finding their way into educational strategies. Several of our clients this year focused on — at the bare minimum — clarifying their stance and philosophy toward AI and AR. And, several appear determined to build some initial strategy around their approach, understanding that emerging technologies will have a seismic shift and impact on education.

  3. Demographic shifts and get migration is impacting nearly every school and college in virtually every region of North America and beyond. The growing geopolitical aspect of our work is causing most schools and colleges to refine their own identity and clarify their own approach.

  4. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work seems to be approaching a next generation — call it DEIB 3.0. We are seeing some strategy refinement, a more mature approach, and a hard reckoning with a failed business model that has favored full pay, selective admissions in a world where independent schools serve between 1% and 3% of a market. Schools and colleges now understand that there are systemic issues with their financial model that preclude making great strides in DEIB work and are now entering a more mature and measured approach to this work.

  5. New program incubators seem to be trending, giving schools and colleges a short-term approach to piloting new ideas and innovations for size, limiting the impact, cost, and giving an exit strategy to old programs that need to be sunsetted.

  6. The classic debate on where consumers will place the greatest investment — secondary education or higher education — seems to be on the rise. Private secondary schools are now seeing more clearly how the role of formal higher education may become outdated or irrelevant in a world of AI and AR and how this may shift the market role of private schools from “college preparation” to “life preparation” in the minds of consumers.

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