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Current Issues facing Higher Education

This article contains information on the current issues facing higher education and its students (both current and prospective students).

Higher Education

Growing up, there was a popular saying that “Education is the best legacy“. Even many schools made it as their Motto. That particular slogan created a strong impression on the importance of education. Hence, many parents, regardless of their financial status, struggled to give their children the best of education.

The society as a whole understood the importance of education then and did everything to make sure getting a higher education wasn’t impossible for anyone who had the interest in being educated. Infact, acquiring a higher education was easy, enjoyable and a lot easier.

Presently, the reverse is the case. With the level at which the Education system is degenerating, getting a higher education is almost a mission impossible. Education is no longer everyone’s desire due to the numerous challenges associated with higher education.

Understanding some of these educational issues is therefore important for students and parents. Being well-informed about these issues will guide them to make informed decisions in planning for the future.

On this account, this article will provide detailed but yet clear information on many of today’s most relevant issues associated with higher education, although it may surprise you to know that some of the issues are not only peculiar to higher education but in other levels too.


1. Cost

The number one challenge in higher education is financial involvement. The cost of getting a higher education has become so exorbitant that many people cannot even afford it. The expenses however prevent many students from going to higher Institutions and therefore puts many students and parents who desire to further their education into huge debt.

Previously, public institutions were the hope of the poor masses due to their affordability, but that is no longer the case. Surprisingly, many government institutions are as expensive as some private institutions. Considering this challenge, education for the less privileged in society is no longer guaranteed.

2. Legacy Admissions

This has been a long standing issue in most of the higher Institutions today. This policy of legacy admissions makes it difficult for students from the lower class in the society to gain admission and if at all they are given admission, they are offered less lucrative courses.

A typical example was when I was seeking admission to study Nursing. I applied to study nursing in two different Universities of which I passed the screening examination in one of the Universities. My hopes were high based on my performance. I was certain I would be given admission to study my choice course. Sadly, when the admission lists were released, my name was nowhere to be found. I spent weeks hoping more lists would be released but my hopes were dashed.

I felt my score wasn’t good enough and that was why I was denied admission but lo and behold, on checking through the lists, I saw a great number of students who were given admission to study Nursing with scores way lower than mine. If weeping could get me an admission, my tears would, but weeping couldn’t solve the problem. It was glaring I was simply a victim of favouritism.

Legacy admission only favours students from wealthy homes, students who are relatives of either workers in the institution or have an upper hand in the school. This development has overruled the importance of good results in the admission process. It gives an unfair advantage to wealthy students and use up valuable spots that should go to more qualified students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Admission on merit no longer holds water because of legacy admission.

3. Floundering Students

In every higher institution, there are always students who struggle with one challenge or the other. This set of students are called floundering students. The major cause of floundering is academic difficulties. However, there are other causes which include homesickness, financial difficulties, relationship problems, family problems, personal illness, etc.

For new intakes, homesickness during the first few months on campus is a common cause, but many students have difficulties beyond homesickness.

From the survey, a greater proportion of students seek psychological counseling primarily for depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. Oftentimes, these issues have a drastic effect on the academic performance of students. In extreme cases, some students end up dropping out of school. This issue has been on the increase for a long time in higher institutions.

4. Ethnicity and Race in Admissions

Ideally, going to school should give one the opportunity to socialize and connect with others from different races and ethnic groups. Many individuals have made wonderful friends from school. The beauty of mixing up with students from different parts of the world was one of the things that made higher institutions memorable and fun.

Sadly, the system of admission today has altered what once made higher education interesting as admission into many schools are based on race and ethnicity.

This singular issue has raised important questions about the lack of diversity in school admissions and campus life.

Following this development, some places have passed laws prohibiting the use of race and ethnicity in admissions to public colleges and universities. However, this still remains a big challenge in higher education.

5. Graduation Rates

It is the desire of every student to enrol for a course and graduate exactly at the stipulated duration without delay, but survey has shown that due to some reasons, this is hardly obtainable.

This is a major problem faced by most students in public institutions, especially in Africa. It is quite saddening that a very small number of students are able to graduate from Universities within the stated academic duration. Students from financially buoyant backgrounds are not affected by this.

Some of the reasons for low graduation rate include the following:

  • Bad governance: So many countries across the world are faced with this plague that has affected every sector of the economy. With incessant going on strike by Academic bodies, resulting from the refusal of the government to pay teaching staff, students end up spending more years in school.
  • Low income: Another reason for the low rate of graduation is the lack of finance. Higher education has become so expensive that students from low income homes are at a risk of quitting halfway. Oftentimes, in the bid to stay in school, such students often have to work long hours in order to be able to pay their bills. Because their work schedules reduce the time they have for studying, this affects their grades in most cases. In other words, low-income students drop out at a higher rate because of academic and financial challenges and probably family problems.
  • Victimization of students: It is no longer news that each academic year, lecturers also contribute to the low graduation rates of students. Survey has shown that students who do not dance to the tune of lecturers are being frustrated from graduating with their counterparts. Most times, female students who refuse the romantic advances of lecturers are the major victims of this issue. Out of frustration, some of the victims don’t ever get to graduate because they withdraw from school. All these are the major causes of low graduation rates in higher institutions. This challenge has discouraged a lot of individuals from acquiring a higher education.

6. Campus Violence

You’re not wrong to assume violence occurs only in secondary and high schools. After all, most cases of bullying and corporal punishments are rampant in such places. However, violence can also happen in colleges and universities. The level of violence in higher institutions is even more extreme than that of secondary and high schools.

Campus violence comes in various dimensions and this has left many students in danger. On various occasions, innocent students have lost their lives to some of this violence and as the day go by, the problem even gets worse in different institutions.

Here are some of the various forms of violence on campuses.

  • Cultism: On top of the list of violence in higher institutions is that of cultism. Cultism has eaten deep into the root of higher institutions in most parts of the world, especially in Africa. Annually, many students lose their lives as a result of cult clashes in schools. This has put fear in the minds of students and parents. This menace is common in mostly public institutions; this is why parents who are financially buoyant prefer to send their children to private Institutions where there is little or no case of cultism.
  • Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment has become the order of the day in most of the higher institutions. One would think it’s only common in public institutions but then even private schools are not left out. This challenge is mostly faced by female students and survey has shown that this problem has contributed greatly to the low graduation rates of students. As a female, acquiring a higher education has become something to worry about because of sexual harassment by lectures. In some cases, male students are also involved in sexually harassing female colleagues. Rape cases have escalated in campuses and nothing seems to be done about it, leaving female students endangered.


Getting a higher education is a privilege but the many problems associated with it, is becoming a turnoff to many parents and students.

As captured in this article, the cost of higher education is one of the challenges frustrating the efforts of parents and students who desire to have higher qualifications. Legacy admission on the other hand is a very big problem that has equally robbed the low class in the society of the opportunity to gain admission even with good grades.

Also, many college students have academic and personal problems that make them flounder and to seek psychological counseling.

The last but not the least is violence of various forms. Physical and sexual violence has become a general problem on campuses worldwide. Hence, the security of students is not guaranteed.

All these challenges and more have become a pain in the neck to many students and their parents and as such many students are gradually losing interest in higher education.

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