3 trends for HE innovation in 2020

Just like we’ve seen in other sectors, consumers of higher education continue to have changing expectations, needs and challenges. University students in 2020 and beyond will demand more flexibility and more choice, but as countless institutions vie for their attention, it’ll become increasingly challenging to attract the best and the brightest. 

It’s vital that institutions harness and take advantage of the latest technology, innovations and approaches in order to not only stay viable financially but also to grow and improve the student experience and outcomes. 

With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at 3 trends we’re likely to see in higher education innovation in 2020. 


MOOCs and online content

As technology and global infrastructure evolve, so does a student’s expectations to have more flexibility when it comes to their learning. Universities have a responsibility and a mandate to make learning available and accessible to as many students as possible, regardless of location, economic status or lifestyle. 

In 2018 alone, 20 million users worldwide signed up for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – and the demand for online content continues to grow all the time. Higher education institutions will need to continue to focus on developing their offering in this area in order to appeal to and offer learning opportunities to a wider range of students. 

Inevitably, technology and its capabilities will continue to improve, meaning that as soon as 2020, real-time translation could be possible, opening up an institution’s course content to effectively anyone in the world to collaborate and learn in real-time. 


Big data and analytics

Big data and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to interrogate and understand data has seen an explosion in use the public sector in the last few years. 

Being able to process and understand the behaviours, outcomes or status of a large group of people, be it patients, constituents or students, is massively valuable to public sector organisations in their quest to become more efficient and to achieve their goals. 

Higher education institutions will increasingly focus on using predictive analytics to process their student performance data and to pinpoint which students need intervention and when. Having this level of visibility and control over when and why to intervene will help them achieve better pass rates and higher levels of student retention. Through leveraging this data, universities will be able to produce more graduates, as well improve outcomes on an individual student level. 



As we’ve already noted several times, providing higher education in 2020 and beyond is about understanding and meeting the expectations of a changing student population. As well as examining and leveraging how technology and other innovative tools can help them deliver better education experiences to more students, institutions will also need to look at how their systems and processes encourage focus on the student and the student experience. 

Student experience is a key priority for more than 8 out of 10 academic institutions – and for good reason. The higher education sector is more competitive than ever, and with so many options available to them, it’s vital that institutions focus on attracting students and providing them with the best experience possible. 

The student experience obviously covers a wide range of processes and systems, but key areas for focus could include connecting students more easily with advisors and alumni, making tuition fees, bursary and grant management easier, providing a more efficient and easy ways of booking appointments with tutors or lecturers, and making student associations, events and other enrichment activities more visible. 


To learn more about trends, challenges and transformational journeys in higher education, register your interest in attending the Higher Education Partnership Network, 28th-29th April 2020 at Oulton Hall, Leeds. Over two days at a fantastic four-star venue, you’ll hear from experts in the field of innovation and transformation in higher education about the real challenges they face everyday in their organisations, and the strategies and technologies they have put in place to achieve their objectives. 

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