The higher-education industry is changing drastically and that change is good for business -- and entrepreneurs.
Colleges and universities are no longer the gatekeeper of information or the only game in town. Instead, numerous new providers are entering the fray, increasing competition for students (customers) and driving down prices. Not only are these new services focusing on traditional students, but they are also gunning for the fastest growing customer market: "adult students." Already, adults over 25 account for 38 percent of post-secondary enrollments and corporations account for 63 percent of spending on post-secondary training and development, which equates to big opportunities.
Colleges and universities are providing this whole array of students more possibilities, and entrepreneurs are also taking note, with many disrupting the industry.
Looking to get a piece of this ed-tech pie? Here are how entrepreneurs are shaping the education sector.
Supporting colleges and universities. The approximately 6,900 accredited colleges and universities in the US, as well as numerous other education providers and international schools, form a sizable and captive market. These education providers need the tools that will allow them to grow their business, support their students and run their school.
This opportunity means savvy entrepreneurs can step in with everything from software to consulting to supplies and build a business around supporting higher education.
Assisting students. Today's students are savvy shoppers, and entrepreneurs have an opportunity to offer products and services to support them and improve their higher education experience. As the education industry commoditizes, students are taking more control of their learning experience and outcomes. Existing companies have been able to aid students in selecting an institution, provide them with tutoring, create new means of tracking credentials and more. As the industry continues to grow, so will these opportunities.
As evidenced by the recent success of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), there is opportunity for entrepreneurs who find a way to build upon the higher ed model in new and innovative ways in order to support student needs. For instance, there are companies that help students find online classes through accredited colleges with the click of a few buttons.
Educating employees. Gone are the days when a "once-in-a-lifetime" degree could carry a person throughout their entire working life. Technology is changing at such a rate that tomorrow's practices will eclipse today's knowledge. In fact, 70 percent of employers think employees need constant education just to keep pace with their jobs. But the cost of higher education has traditionally made it very difficult for corporations to partner with colleges and universities to provide education opportunities for their employees. Entrepreneurs are looking to change this. Many MOOC providers have already made headway in this area by offering corporate training classes to keep employees up to date.
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