Implications for policy makers

University of the future

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University of the future 2012

Key findings:

  • Drivers of change
  • Preparing for the future

The higher education sector matters critically to the future of the nation, yet policy makers are increasingly limited in their ability to influence the decisions, and hence the performance, of individual institutions.

Policy makers must find ways to set a framework that maximises the sector’s contribution to Australia’s future

Despite this, at a minimum, policy makers setting the framework for the sector should consider and address:

Role of higher education in the nation’s future

Politicians and policy makers should present a clear policy and public case for the critical role of higher education in the nation’s future, to build public support for the university sector and set the foundations for higher education public policy.

Scenario modelling

Policy makers should model different scenarios for the sector over the next 10-15 years; for example, to consider how the models described in this paper might evolve, what it might mean for the ‘public good’ role of universities, and what role policy might have to optimise the outcome for the public good and the nation.

Regulation

TEQSA is still new and evolving the way it implements its oversight of the sector. In the longer-term, governments and regulators need to consider how new university models might fit into their regulatory frameworks, and what forms of regulation might be appropriate to maintain standards of quality, at the same time as enabling innovation and new models to develop.

Role of the private sector and new entrants

Policy makers will need to have a view on the desirability or otherwise of the private sector and new entrants – domestic or international – creating new models or carving out market share using existing models.

Price flexibility

Price flexibility is no panacea, but under the right conditions might enable universities to secure much needed funds for the future. Those conditions must balance price flexibility with equity and the economically and socially critical participation agenda.

Implications for the private sector

Ambitious players will need to move fast to establish new models and secure partnerships with leading incumbents

We see a role for media companies, technology providers, financiers, and a range of industry groups to create value providing services within the higher education value chain, such as content distribution, commercialisation, industry placements and certification. Some of these services might be provided on a stand-alone basis. More likely, however, are joint-ventures or partnerships with incumbent institutions that bring market credibility and academic capability.

“We bring university education to those who haven’t had it before and help them to get a great job”
- Managing Director, Private-sector university operator

Given the scale of likely future growth in higher education markets – for example, a trillion dollars or more in Asia alone over the next fifteen years – and the links to burgeoning middle classes in emerging markets, we encourage potential private sector players to put serious resources into establishing new models and to start securing partnerships with leading incumbents.

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