Meeting the Challenges Page

There are two overarching challenges we face as a university:

  • Increased dependency of our revenues on students’ willingness to come to UNC and their ability to pay tuition, fees, and room and board as a result of the significant decline in state funding.
  • A marked decline in the student demographic we have historically and primarily depended on for enrollment – undergraduate on-campus new freshmen.

In addition to these two major changes that effect our operations, there are contextual issues we must be cognizant of as we secure our future as a robust doctoral research university. They include:

Changing Political, Economic, Social and Demographic Context

  • The public’s questioning the value and relevancy of a higher education degree and a liberal arts education in preparing students to be successful
  • A 21st century global economy that is driving
    • an increase demand for graduates who are able to adapt to the inevitable economic, political, cultural, technological, scientific, environmental and demographic changes; and
    • the need for a breadth of understanding and integration across multiple disciplines and competencies.
  • Growing competition for undergraduate and graduate students from both traditional public higher education entities, for-profit and business entities. In Colorado alone, we compete for students with 32 other higher education entities. Community colleges are working to gain permission to offer 4 year degrees.
  • An increased demand for post-baccalaureate and graduate prepared students
  • As mentioned above, nation-wide population projections indicate that there will be fewer high school graduates ready and able to attend college
  • Growing indebtedness of students who enroll and/or graduate from institutions of higher education
  • Our city, state and nation are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse and growing older
  • In Colorado and across the country a high percentage of our population have some college credits, but no degree;
  • Oversight and performance expectations from national and state regulatory agencies are now focused on degree completion as a measure of quality.
  • [MB will help with verbiage] Universities are being asked to be more engaged in their communities

Teaching, Learning & Technology Influences

  • Students are now “digital natives” who are connected to visual and digital information 24/7 via smartphones and tablets and this reality has changed the very nature of how students learn.
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Khan Academy now deliver for free many of the same courses we offer and students receive certificates of completion. Some argue that this model will replace the need for degrees.

University-Wide Response

The number and convergence of these contextual challenges has changed the very nature of what it means to be engaged in the work of higher education today. The interplay of fiscal, political, economic, social and demographic challenges along with revolutionary changes in the teaching, learning and technology requires that we consider how to respond so we can remain competitive among our higher education peers, while offering an education that is high quality, relevant, and affordable.

So let’s act boldly and be imaginative!