2018 Sodexo University Trends Report

The demographics, needs, expectations and behaviors of university students are changing, and along with them the campus environment. We worked with the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life and a global panel of higher-education experts to identify and understand five key trends shaping the future of the student experience, and how universities are evolving in response.

At Sodexo, we partner with more 700 universities across the globe and we are constantly educating ourselves about key trends in student demographics, behaviors and needs.

Our goal is to expand and adapt our services to meet students’ needs and more effectively help universities plan for the future.

1. Beyond Academics - Preparing students to thrive in a complex world

Across the world, rapidly changing economic, political, social, technological, cultural and environmental forces are reshaping young people’s daily lives and their futures. “Preparing students” takes on an hugely expanded mandate beyond academic education. It includes extracurricular programs and personal growth experiences that support students’ mental well-being and help them develop their outlook on global issues to prepare them to address an ever-evolving landscape.


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2. First and Foremost - Engaging the growing number of first-generation students

The world’s middle class is expanding, and with it a new generation of university students is emerging. As the number of first-generation university students grows, universities are working to recognize, engage and provide support for them. The benefits reach far beyond a single student subset to the entire campus, extended families and the students’ communities.


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3. Connected, Enabled and Personalized - How technology can enhance student experiences

Many undergraduate university students today are digital natives: they expect easy access across a breadth of digital platforms to enhance their everyday experiences at university. From recruitment to daily student life and post-graduation interactions, technology is becoming an increasingly important factor in student engagement.


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4. A Fundamental Shift - The next evolution of brick-and-mortar universities

Global student population expansion, technological progress and student mobility are changing the way students see – and experience – the physical university campus. In response to these shifts, universities are offering blended learning models, more collaborative spaces and customized learning journeys to engage and connect students with each other, the campus and surrounding communities.

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5. Lifelong Learning - Adapting and evolving to accommodate a multi-generational student body

As technology drives changes in the workplace, education is shifting from the traditional ‘one-and-done’ model serving a small slice of the young adult population to a broader audience over the lifecourse. This group includes older adults looking to improve and expand their skill sets to keep up, keep working and continue learning. Universities are exploring how to connect, provide for and inspire remote learners, working adults and returning students.


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Trends at a glance