“Just as we’ve seen the forces of technology and globalisation transform sectors such as media and communications or banking and finance over the last two decades, these forces may now transform higher education. The solid classical buildings of great universities may look permanent but the storms of change now threaten them.” Lawrence Summers, Charles W Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University
It is a fascinating and challenging time for the higher education sector. As universities and colleges become increasingly competitive and endeavour to deliver the best student experience possible, operational efficiency has risen to the top of the agenda. The benefits of investment in higher education and research in terms of the positive effects on economic growth and regional competitiveness, as well as on individual employment prospects and wellbeing are well established. However, while continued government investment is vital, the sector must modernise itself, becoming more efficient and effective.
The Diamond Review of 2011 identified potential wins in areas such as process improvement and simplification, shared services and outsourcing, IT, better use of collaborative procurement, and more effective use of benchmarking. Its implementation plan, published in 2013, centred on four core areas: leadership, data, regulation and procurement. The sector actually saved some £462m in 2010/11 through efficiency measures, significantly exceeding expectations. But is this enough? Will efficiencies deliver the long-term improvements in quality and value required, or does the higher education system actually need wholesale transformation?
Recently published by the IPPR, the An Avalanche is Coming report argues that the ‘steady as she goes’ approach is doomed to fail. Competition between universities around the world has been building for many years, and now there is great rivalry for new talent and research funding. The international student market is expected to grow by about 7% a year on average and the UK needs to ensure that it can compete effectively.
Join us at the Modernising Higher Education: delivering value in a global market conference where it will consider the future of the UK higher education sector and its position in the international marketplace. Covering the latest efficiency and productivity strategies, inspirational improvements to student experience, and teaching and learning innovations, the conference presents an ideal opportunity for professionals from right across the higher education sector to learn from high-profile keynote speakers and practical case studies, as well as sharing their own experiences with contemporaries in the busy networking sessions.