- Stanford University has pledged to stop touting application data that shows off its selectivity during the enrollment cycle, the university announced last week. It will continue to provide data to the federal government, where it will be available for college rankings.
- The move intends to shift prospective students' focus off admission rates and encourage them to find institutions best-suited for their interests. However, some critics contend that not formally releasing the numbers could lead to applicant confusion over acceptance rates, Inside Higher Ed reported.
- Stanford has among the lowest admissions rates for colleges — 4.3% this year — with 47,450 applicants and 2,040 admitted.
Acceptance rates at top universities are on the decline as the pool of applicants grows and expectations increase, Business Insider reported. That made this year the most difficult one yet for students seeking to gain acceptance into an elite college such as Stanford.
One higher education expert has said he believes the most selective U.S. universities keep their enrollment low to appear more selective and save costs, while in other countries the top universities have larger student bodies.
Where expansion is occurring in higher education is in competency-based programs. A report released earlier this year by Pearson and nonprofit Jobs For the Future noted that the number of such programs has increased to 500 in 2018 from 20 in 2012. The number of credential programs increased from 600,000 in 2012 to more than 1 million in 2014, and digital badge use identifying industry-specific skills is expected to grow 30% from 2018 to 2022.
Harvard University Continuing Education Dean Hunt Lambert sees prospects for industrial "leapfrogging" in higher education, suggesting that colleges and universities should embracing micro-credentialing and other access methods it has long resisted. Such moves will help institutions enroll more students, improve their product and produce better trained workers at a faster pace, he said.