Bootcamps expanding at traditional universities, but efficacy of model still unstable
- Over the last two years, bootcamps — not just for coding, but also for intensive skill development in other fields, like healthcare and accounting — have grown in popularity among traditional nonprofit, four year insttitutions, reports EdSurge.
- Though bootcamps are proliferating throughout higher ed, it is still unclear whether the model will be successful as an alternative credential pathway model, as Reuters reports that many of these for-profit schools are shutting down. For example, the well known Dev Bootcamp announced in July its plans to shut down for lack of a viable business model, even though there has been growth in enrollment.
- Though some bootcamps are closing, others are thriving, like Flatiron School, which has a 97% job placement rate and has its student outcomes audited by Massachusetts, according to Reuters — highlighting not only that success of such programs are heavilly tied to ROI beyond graduation, but also that the traditional education pathway with accountability for student outcomes is here to stay.
Alternative credentialing pathways geared toward granting students specific skillsets for the workforce have been expanding over the last fifteen years and remain popular despite lack of evidence of their ROI for students. In fact, a new study from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which examined the field of options, found that there is little proof to show that they offer the same quality assurance and success beyond graduation as the traditional two- or four-year degree, because data colllection on their individual their features, costs and enrollment is still underdeveloped.
Coding bootcamps, which Reuters reports grew in popularity at the beginning of the 2010s on the heels of the Great Recession, had the immediate appeal of being able to offer what seems like a cheaper, more time-conscientious way of earning with credentials the skills needed to fill high salaried tech jobs. And as a result, coding bootcamps have exploded, graduating nearly 1.5 times the number of students from last year at 22,949 and garnering about $266 million in revenue this year alone, according to Course Report data. But even with these statistics to boast, bootcamps are increasingly shutting down, as many — with high tuition fees of an average $11,400 for 14.1 weeks long programs — are not able to actually deliver on their promises to help students land the jobs they are desiring. As many students are realizing their investment may not be panning out in the workforce, the hype for such bootcamps has faded.
Now as other schools are considering the bootcamp model for other fields, it's important for adminsitrators to undersatnd that the framework of offering special skills in a short-time is only going to be appealing to students if they feel like they are not just getting the experience, but will actually be able to get a job after completing the courses. The traditional two to four year institution has a leg-up in making the model work in that it has the opportunity to partner up with local businesses that may be willing to sponsor such bootcamps, meaning that students which complete these pathways may be able to have the insurance of a pipeline straight into that company. Looking toward what's happening with bootcamps, as the test for alternative credentialing, will be important as higher ed leaders increasingly consider ways of meeting the needs of new generations of students, which are demanding more flexible and shorter education options.
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