The (Australian) university of the future

The Australian university of the futureIn a report by Ernst and Young, Australian universities are described as being on ‘the cusp of profound change', with current models unlikely to remain viable over the next decade and beyond.The report discusses five ‘mega-trend' drivers of change in the academic sector:

  • Democratisation of knowledge - access and availability of knowledge growing globally (especially in emerging markets)
  • Fierce competition for both students and funding
  • Digital technologies transforming the way people access education
  • Globalisation - opportunities for global mobility and partnerships and the emergence of global, elite university brands
  • Integration with industry - driving innovation and research via deeper relationships and new partnerships
If they are to be successful, universities need to respond by creating new lean business models (which involves reducing the ratio of ‘support staff') and becoming more ‘corporate' in the way they work.  This may include the streamlining of the number of subjects/programmes offered and taking decisions to focus on specific sectors.New business modelsThe report describes three potential business models (while acknowledging that there are other models open to universities):
  • Streamlined status quo -in which established universities maintain broad-based teaching and research but transform the way in which these services are delivered and administrated
  • Niche dominators targeting customer segments and refining their services
  • Transformers  - new entrants, new market spaces, new sources, new partnerships
ResearchThe report also explores future scenarios for research within university
  • Research will  become concentrated on universities that can demonstrate research impact and excellence
  • Smaller universities will focus on narrower range of research programmes, and build links with partners
The report is free to download.