There are three main challenges currently affecting UK higher education institutions.
Firstly, the change in UK government policy which removes the cap on student numbers for English universities will result in huge challenges. Institutions must evaluate how they can maintain student numbers at current levels and whether they can continue to charge the same amounts of tuition fees. At the moment, institutions are delivering learning in a wide range of areas. In future, many will have to choose and define what they’re good at and focus in these areas, rather than try to deliver everything.
The second challenge is technology change which arises from the student experience and the need to focus on cost and efficiency. There is also an emphasis on increasing the use of technology for academic research. However, technology brings its own challenges, e.g. safeguarding the personal data of staff and students from cyber attacks is important for avoiding brand damage. Institutions must adapt to these new conditions, including the personalised learning students want, if they are to move up the increasingly important league tables.
The third challenge is the institution’s response in terms of cost reduction, efficiency and improving processes.
Institutions will have to take more risks, as well as react and adapt to new technology. They must ensure they have a strong change management process to get these initiatives right, first time, every time. Cultural change and strong project management are critical and this is where we can bring value as we are independent, objective and really understand how universities operate. Our industry experts include practitioners in blended learning, teaching, research and innovation.
Technology will play a huge part in driving change for how teaching, learning and research takes place. Increasingly, provision will be developed locally but delivered globally through networks, innovation, partnerships and collaboration. From a teaching perspective, students will be seeking a personalised learning experience, seeking out a mix of technology-based learning and tutorial support. Institutions must understand what students want and respond accordingly. To do this, data, information, intelligence and market analysis will become critical.
This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.