College students want better ‘return on investment’ coming out of COVID, survey finds

College students from 23 countries want a better return on their investment coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, a US education technology company reported Thursday.

Roughly 71% of students and administrators responding to a survey said work or career readiness would grow more important as a measure of success over the next 12 months, according to Instructure. That’s up 5 points since the company first asked the question in 2020.

The Salt Lake City-based company is the developer of Canvas, a leading educational software program. Instructure shared the findings in its 2022 State of Student Success and Engagement in Higher Education report.

“The student debt crisis drove many prospective students to question the return on investment of a college education,” Ryan Lufkin, a vice president at Instructure, said Monday. “This has put the impetus on colleges and universities to demonstrate these pathways to jobs and expand career placement efforts.”

In an email, Mr. Lufkin noted that US universities have recently partnered with companies like Starbucks, Uber, FedEx and Nike to secure better-paying jobs for students by graduation.

Instructure’s report noted that 68% of students responding to this year’s survey said they consider having definable skills more essential to success than course titles or a degree.

“Poverty and having to work jobs while also going to school [affect] students extremely and there should be either more assistance to students or less of a monetary barrier to attending college, ”one anonymous US student said in the survey.

While two-thirds of students globally want to keep the option of taking some online courses as the pandemic recedes, the report said North American students were “significantly less likely” than others to favor hybrid learning.

The report found that 49% of North American students want a combination of in-person and online classes, compared to 64% of Asia-Pacific students and 71% of students from Latin American nations.

Hanover Research, a Virginia-based educational analytics firm, collaborated with Instructure in analyzing the digital survey of 7,572 two- and four-year undergraduate students and employees. Conducted in July, the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.

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