October 26, 2022
Oct 10, 2022
· Press Release

Instructure Research Reveals Higher Education’s New Directive as Students Demand Flexibility and Return on Investment


Competency and skills-based learning, as well as career readiness, are top concerns for higher-ed students 

SALT LAKE CITY — October 26, 2021 — Instructure, the maker of Canvas, recently released its annual global report focused on the state of higher education. Key findings from the report include the factors that lead to student success, what’s hindering students from succeeding and important elements for measuring success, such as the importance of mental health support for students. View the full report: State of Student Success and Engagement in Higher Education.

“We are seeing a growing group of non-traditional students that demand change in the way institutions offer courses,” said Melissa Loble, chief customer experience officer at Instructure. “Learners are looking for flexibility and an emphasis on career skills in preparation for entering the workforce. Institutions that offer holistic solutions, such as mental health resources and mentoring programs, will go a long way in ensuring student success.”

In its third year, the “State of Higher Education” research reflects a survey of over 7,500 current students, administrators and faculty from 23 countries representing a mixture of two-year, four-year, public and private higher education institutions. The report uncovered six key trends: 

  1. Students are demanding convenience and flexibility. Learners now expect a higher standard of online course design as part of any teaching and learning experience and want options between in-person, online, or hybrid courses.
  • Two-thirds of students (62%) want to take some courses fully online and nearly three-quarters of faculty (72%) want to teach some courses fully online.
  •  As a result of the pandemic, respondents have a more positive attitude towards digital material (69%), open education resources (65%), combined in-person and online instruction (61%), online learning (59%) and online exam proctoring (51%). 
  • NORAM students are likely to take online (59%) and hybrid classes (57%). NA faculty are also likely to teach online (57%) and hybrid classes (75%).
  1. Career readiness is of paramount importance. Preparing students for a career path after 

graduation, whether they are traditional students, part-time students, or mid-career, is still the primary concern of students, faculty and administrators. However, administrators and students agree that this is the area where institutions struggle most. 

  • Work/career readiness is the factor respondents say (32%) their institution struggles with most.
  • Most respondents (71%) believe work/career readiness (82%), skill competency (87%), and student advancement (83%) are the most important factors when measuring student success.
  • North America (27%) and EMEA (23%) are significantly less likely to believe their institution struggles with work/career readiness.
  1. Competency-based and skills-based learning is in growing demand. There will always be learners who seek to pursue the traditional degree-learning programs. However, other groups of students are looking to complete skills-based learning that allows them to enter the workforce quickly or enable career progression opportunities in a cost-effective and efficient way.
  • Globally, two-thirds of respondents consider competency-based education the most important factor for students. This is the case for 57% of respondents in NORAM compared to 72% in APAC (Asia Pacific).
  1. Tech-enhanced pedagogy is critical for student engagement. Student success today requires the availability of technology resources, as well as engaging content and instruction from technology-proficient faculty.
  • More than half of respondents (52%) have a positive perception of online learning, while one-third have a negative perception (29%).
  • Institutions are most likely to utilize education technology solutions to help students feel more engaged, such as video communications systems (57%), classroom management tools (50%), and learning management systems (42%).
  • NORAM  (53%) offer diversity training, while APAC institutions (59%) are most likely to provide technological training, and LATAM (52%) offer periodic workshops.
  1. The digital divide, or gap between those with and those without the internet, directly impacts student success. Internet connectivity continues to be one of the most basic needs of learners across the globe. Institutions are responding to students’ needs, including focusing on bridging the digital divide in a variety of ways. 
  • The socioeconomic factors with the greatest impact on student engagement are access to the internet (91%), technology devices (89%), and learning resources (89%).
  • In NORAM (89%) access to the internet, technology devices (88%) and learning resources (87%) are the socioeconomic factors with the greatest impact on student engagement.
  1. The psychological well-being of students is at the forefront of the conversation on student success. Building a culture of care is more important than ever. The framework of the college experience continues to evolve; fortunately, institutions are responding to an increased focus and desire for mental health care as an integral part of the higher education support system.
  • Globally, administrators are significantly more likely to believe that their institution is doing well in addressing mental health issues (56%) compared to students (42%).
  • Institutions' top offerings to support mental health are counseling (52%), campus well-being events (45%), and mentorship programs (33%).
  • NORAM Institutions primarily address mental health issues through counseling (62%) and campus well-being events (52%). 

Instructure’s chief product officer, Shiren Vijiamsingam, will present at the Educause conference on Wednesday, October 26 from 2:15 PM to 3:00 PM MT. In his presentation “Intentional Innovation,” he will share insights based on global trends from the study and discuss current realities of higher education institutions, including how innovation impacted students, faculty and administrators.

Survey Methodology

The survey was fielded in July 2022 and was cleaned and analyzed by Hanover Research. After fielding and data cleaning, the study consisted of 7,572 qualified, completed responses. The data was then cut into crosstabs by region, country, and role, along with various additional subsegments, such as socioeconomic status. We performed statistical significance testing across segments with a 95% confidence level using a Z-Test with p = less than 0.05 and a margin of error +/- 1% for the overall sample size. For any questions regarding the underlying methodology or data, please contact us at studentsuccess@instructure.com.

About Instructure

Instructure (NYSE: INST) is an education technology company dedicated to elevating student success, amplifying the power of teaching, and inspiring everyone to learn together. Today the Instructure Learning Platform, comprised of its flagship product Canvas LMS and several products serving K-12, higher education and professional education, supports tens of millions of educators and learners around the world. Learn more at www.instructure.com.


Brian Watkins
Corporate Communications