Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Universities through the Looking Glass

Second talk was Mike Boxall from PA consulting, Looking at Universities through a looking glass. His talk outlined the challenges facing Universities, and the changes in culture they will have to face. Some of the key points he made, in note form, are:

HE is moving from the funded world to the market world. Measures of success changing also. Universities will have to live from their income. They will have to abandon funding-dependent business models and will no longer be able to base forecasts on expected, historical funding models. There will have to be new funding models, based on coherent capabilities.

Universities will have to become more business like, with social purposes. More market facing and competitive, without losing sight of their distinctive purposes and values. Will have to make a profit in order to survive - this is a real paradigm shift.

21st century universities will be social enterprises, justified and sustained by their value to society

When we look at the public debate about HE and the supposed crisis in HE, it tends to be focused on school leaving undergraduates and international students, but these form only part of picture. There are huge opportunities in the rest of the market.

Customers are driving transformation in the universities' core market
Post Browne, it is more about competition, student centred, bespoke, tailored, customised
International students used to be an easy pool of cash, unregulated, paying premium fees. Now this sector is more market based, with regulated numbers, competition, and high expectations.
Research is also changing, moving towards more problem based, thematic, focus on impacts, value based funding.

Very crowded market for the 150 odd universities. There's not going to be the growth that we've had up to now. Will be some winners and potentially some losers.

There are opportunities for growth beyond current horizons. For example, in CPD, open source, open learning, open content, consultancy and knowledge markets, open innovation, facilitated e-learning, learning apps, pathways and portfolios, accreditation and QA.
21st century Universities will be defined by the different markets and customer needs they seek to serve. Mission groups, eg the Russell Group, will cease to exist.

Who will shape our children's future higher education? Different players coming into the game including Google, iTunes Cisco. Private providers.

The learner journey is still a legacy of choosing from a set menu of choices in a prospectus. Then given the learning through lectures etc. Support is still 9 to 5, 30 weeks a year. Success is still measured by how much students can reflect back what they've been given.

Should be a fundamental change. Choices tailored to individuals. Learning processes more a co-production between learners and teachers rather than the transactional consumption of knowledge.
24/7, year round service should be the norm. Success should be measured by by recognising intellectual achievements and competencies. learning should be a

Tomorrow universities will have to earn their living from the private and social value they generate, and focus on building competitive competences in selected markets.
They should provide smart access to a universe of learning resources.

Leading edge information and technology capabilities will be fundamental to achieving this, BUT,
our sector is about 5 years behind where we should be. A final question:
How can we grow the i-maturity of our universities to match that of our customers?

An interesting keynote, and one that generated a lot of debate. Some members took issue with the statement that we were behind other sectors in IT terms. Others with the need to become more business and market focused, The debate will continue tonight I guess.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Dave Eyre said...

I remember a similar "prediction" by someone employed by the Manpower Services Commission way back in 1982 (Thatcher Years) making similar statements about the FE sector at the time.

I have to tell you just about everything that was said turned out to be wrong. But of course funding depended on change - so everyone followed the mantras.

Which is why - 30 years later - the government finds itself having to build 24 technical colleges.

Where they will get the staff from is a different matter of course.

George Credland said...

The consultants views read like government PR to me. So far most Universities have rejected the market approach and set the maximum fees to replace lost funding and guard against future cuts.

Won't the funding cuts have the effect of forcing Universities to work even more closely together? as such groups of like minded Universities like the Russell Group will become increasingly entrenched rather than disappearing.

pj said...

David Eyre said... Where they will get the staff from is a different matter of course.

The ConDems think that redundant armed forces personnel make excellent teachers - they could obviously be lecturers and researchers too.

Pete Walker said...

I suspect overseas competition may reinforce some of the pressures identified by this consultant.