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IWD 2024: Tertiary education for women hasn’t kept pace with their needs
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

Globally, primary, and secondary school enrollment rates are getting closer to equal for girls and boys (World Bank); but when women find themselves entrenched in a career years later, they face significant challenges when they want to upskill.

The challenge today is that new technology is disrupting what we knew and thought to be true on an ongoing basis. Those who left college years ago and those who left as recently as last month all require a high level of vigilance around managing and building their career. It’s not about ‘keeping up’ anymore; but about ‘staying ahead’ - and ongoing learning is the only way to achieve this.

A ‘traditional’, one-size-fits-all learning model doesn't work when you have a job; or children and a myriad of everyday responsibilities. It’s almost as if the world is saying (by ‘showing’ us) that new skills and ways of thinking are only the remit of those who have just left school.

academyEX has been providing answers to this challenge for over a decade; with the belief that everyone, everywhere who wants to study should be able to study. This includes giving those with valuable work experience (as opposed to a Bachelor's degree) the opportunity to study towards their Masters. Our courses are as impactful as they are flexible, with an 85% completion rate. 82% of our Master's students go on to experience a significant ‘step change’ such as a promotion or starting their own business – and 72% receive a pay rise. Plus, women make up almost 70% of our students, with an average age of over 44; proving that it’s always possible to kick start your third (or fourth) career.

We call the model the new ‘youniversity’ because it does what education should - it places you at the centre to achieve the results you want. 

As an independent, globally focused higher education institute, academyEX has one mission: to make education exactly what you need for the real-world challenges you want to solve. We do it differently so you can make a sustainable, impactful change on the world. But we won’t ever achieve what we’re capable of if we only design courses for one type of learner.

This Women’s Day, we’re sharing three thoughts about designing learning journeys for those who want to disrupt the status quo, grow and make a difference. 

Education is a journey - you never ‘arrive’...

Education, like our careers, is a journey. Learning shouldn’t ‘end’ when we leave school.  And for this reason, we design courses for women that are both flexible and unapologetically intellectual. They’re designed to be the ‘start’ of something new, not the ‘end’ of mastering a set body of work. 

Recently, a female student told us that she was working in a large corporation and felt like she was “failing everyday”. Of course, no one thought she was failing - but she had reached that point in her career where she had gone as far as she could, and so everything from that point onward felt undervalued.

Our Masters programmes teach leadership, AI (and other disruptive technologies), sustainability and resilience. These skills connect our students to opportunities that stretch and grow them for the future. Pretty soon, our student felt her confidence return as she applied these new learnings and skills to her role. 

It’s about finding your tribe, not just your next career step

Courses should be designed to be connective, especially when undertaken remotely. Our learners often tell us that the real value of being placed in a class of like-minded learners is the luxury of having curious and stimulating conversations about issues that matter deeply to them and, by extension, their communities and whanau. 

Traditional ‘networking’ is often unnatural and hard work for introverts, but interacting intellectually with those with the same interests and goals will often give you the opportunity to create a whole new team of advocates.

People can’t be what they cannot see…

academyEX was founded by Frances Valintine CNZM. From the very beginning, Frances set out to ensure that the academy ‘looked like’ who it was designed to serve. Women leaders working across academyEX work in EdTech, AI, data and delivery and we role-model the beauty and success of diverse perspectives when it comes to solutions design.

It’s time to rethink education and reinvest in yourself. This Women’s Day, focus on finding the learning journey that connects you to the future you want – not only on the 8th of March, but all year round.