Looking forward – INTO’s chairman Andrew Colin offers his vision of the future of global higher education

Group of studentsIt’s a confusing world. The forces shaping global higher education demand and supply seem to be working in opposite directions. On the one hand student demand for higher education is at an all-time high. The demand for graduate-level skills across the world is also growing at an exponential rate.

On the other, there is talk of unsustainable higher education systems in the United States – on the verge of bankruptcy and spending well beyond their means, and in China reports emerge of a growing army of unemployed graduates.

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Universities will need to come out fighting in new era of HE funding

The almost universal pressure on higher education within the developed world has been on my mind recently. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the dramatic changes being faced by the UK HE sector – a situation in which, for the first time in years, our partner universities are being made to feel the pressure.

In two moves the UK Government has signalled an intent to expose the sector to the full force of consumerism and for the most part UK universities appear ill equipped to respond. The removal of the cap on recruitment of AAB students and the 8% quota reduction at universities charging more than £7,500 pa is going to make the next recruitment year is interesting to say the least.

There will be winners and losers and of course lots of change, but I’m not sure we’ll end up with a better sector. Some universities will thrive, others will have to focus on their teaching mission and realign their staff and operating models to the reality that only world-class research can be subsidised through student fees.

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