Magazine article Matrix: The Magazine for Leaders in Higher Education

Changing Student Demographics at Specialized Colleges: Implications for Education and Industry. (Lessons from Leaders)

Magazine article Matrix: The Magazine for Leaders in Higher Education

Changing Student Demographics at Specialized Colleges: Implications for Education and Industry. (Lessons from Leaders)

Article excerpt

In the last decade specialized colleges have captured a growing segment of the higher education marketplace. This is due largely to the fact that their programs provide the kind of training much in demand by today's industry.

As the demographic composition of industry changes, so too does that of many specialized colleges. Women have made significant inroads into the once male-dominated worlds of business, advertising, design and high technology. Specialized colleges are beginning to see their undergraduate populations reflect these larger trends within industry.

The School of Visual Arts offers a perfect lens through which to view the push-pull dynamic of industry and specialized higher-education institutions and the challenge this dynamic poses to the mission and planning strategies of the schools that service the needs of industries in flux.

At SVA's founding in 1947, few women were part of New York's art and design community. Mirroring this trend, nary a single woman enrolled in SVA's first class.

Today, women occupy most of the college's recent incoming freshmen cohorts, and all indicators suggest that this will continue to be the case. Applications from women to the college's undergraduate programs have increased, in just five years, by 62 percent, and their rate of matriculation has increased by 23 percent. Meanwhile, the enrollment rate of men has dropped 16 percent.

Also, the social and economic characteristics of the art and design student have similarly changed. Historically, SVA enrolled a largely "local" population from a decidedly working-class background. Training in graphic design, animation and cartooning, for instance, was more vocational than it was professional. This has changed considerably--both as a function of shifting industry demands and as the result of changes in schools' missions. …

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