6 minute read 1 May 2019
Students learning code

How the universities of today can lead learning for tomorrow

By

Catherine Friday

EY Oceania Government and Health Sciences Managing Partner

Improving how governments work and deliver services. Mustang owner. Keen horse rider. Average but enthusiastic skier

6 minute read 1 May 2019

A new way forward for higher education can serve Australia’s needs in 2030.

Does higher education need a new paradigm to serve Australia’s needs in the Transformative Age? We have entered the Transformative Age and, much like the Industrial Revolution before it, we can expect fundamental shifts in how we live, work and learn.

External disruptive forces over which university stakeholders have limited control will shape the future of higher education in Australia. Our report, Can the Universities of Today Lead Learning of Tomorrow, explores four divergent views of the higher education landscape in 2030 and provides insights to how universities need to transform themselves to serve a changing society and a profoundly changed world.

Our purpose is to help universities transform to meet the learning needs of students and employers in a very different working world.
Catherine Friday
EY Oceania Government and Health Sciences Managing Partner

The university of today 

Statistics about higher education paint a positive picture. The sector has grown at around 5% per year between 2000 and 2015 and now contributes $30 billion to the country’s GDP, thanks to rising enrolments and diversifying revenue streams. Education has become a central pillar of Australia’s economy and is our largest services export. Australia is a world leader in higher education today but demand for learning is shifting to a fundamentally new paradigm.

The university of the future 

EY explored four divergent yet plausible views of Australia’s higher education landscape in 2030. Each scenario introduces different opportunities and threats that challenge our thinking, question our assumptions and help us think more broadly about the future. 

  • Scenario 1 - Champion University

    Scenario drivers

    • Government role
      • Activist government prioritises university-friendly regulation and promotes higher education as a strategic national sector.
      • Funding from government exceeds funding from other sources.
    • Demand conditions
      • Majority of learners are 18-25 years old and are pursuing undergraduate degrees and programs.
      • They value independence and well-rounded learning experiences.
    • Technology conditions
      • Technology integrates into traditional university models.
      • Artificial intelligence in industry is niche.
    • Sector structure and rivalry
      • Protected landscape with elite universities dominating.
      • Universities compete via international and national rankings.
  • Scenario 2 - Commercial University

    Scenario drivers
    • Government role
      • Hands-off government prioritises market-friendly competition that promotes deregulation.
      • Funding from industry exceeds that from government.
      • Prices are uncapped.
    • Demand conditions
      • Majority of learners are 18-25 years old and are pursuing undergraduate degrees and programs.
      • They value work-integrated learning and technical expertise.
    • Technology conditions
      • Technology integrates into traditional university models.
      • Artificial intelligence in industry is niche.
    • Sector structure and rivalry
      • Diverse landscape with existing and new universities competing.
      • Universities are autonomous.
      • Universities compete via industry linkages.
  • Scenario 3 - Disruptor University

    Scenario drivers
    • Government role
      • Activist government prioritises learner-friendly regulation that integrates higher and vocational education institutions into integrated tertiary sector.
      • Funding from government exceeds other sources.
      • Enrolment is open.
      • Prices are capped.
    • Demand conditions
      • Majority are continuous learners and are pursuing individual courses.
      • They value control and flexibility of their education.
    • Technology conditions
      • Technology disrupts traditional university models: learning has moved steadily and massively online.
      • New digital platforms link teams of higher and vocational education institutions into networks and consortia.
      • AI is mainstream and machines are displacing jobs.
    • Sector structure and rivalry
      • Consolidated landscape with universities linked into networks with other institutions.
      • Universities compete through acquiring continuous learners.
      • Research and learning are disconnected: universities tend to prioritise learning.

     

  • Scenario 4 - Virtual University

    Scenario drivers
    • Government role
      • Hands-off government prioritises market-friendly competition that promotes deregulation.
      • Majority of funding comes from market mechanisms rather than government.
      • Enrolment is open.
      • Prices are uncapped.
    • Demand conditions
      • Majority are continuous learners and are pursuing micro-certifications.
      • They value control and personalisation of their education.
    • Technology conditions
      • Technology disrupts traditional university models: education-as-a-service scales up.
      • New digital business models realise their full value.
      • AI is mainstream and machines are displacing jobs.
    • Sector structure and rivalry
      • Fragmented landscape with universities in hyper-competition against service providers from outside the sector.
      • Universities compete via new business models and moving into adjacencies.
      • Research and learning are disconnected: universities tend to specialise in one or the other.

Transforming the university business model 

To seize the upside of disruption, universities must take risks and invest in a disruption agenda, even as they continue to focus on initiatives that will keep them competitive in the near to medium term. Leading universities through transformative change is challenging. But the forces driving change in the sector are powerful and the coming paradigm shift will be profound. 

Universities should consider the potential to: 

  1. Embark on double transformation to optimise and grow
  2. Make the shift from being faculty-focussed to learner-centric 
  3. Integrate with industry to collaborate
  4. Re-imagine the physical campus for the digital world 
  5. Unbundle degree programs and the university value chain.

Can your university lead learning for tomorrow? 

EY works with governments, public and private educational institutions and business groups to provide leading policy and practical advice. Download the full report or contact us to help diagnose the readiness of your university to contend with disruption by 2030. 

Summary

In the Transformative Age, our universities must remain globally competitive. But what will make a university successful in this new world?

About this article

By

Catherine Friday

EY Oceania Government and Health Sciences Managing Partner

Improving how governments work and deliver services. Mustang owner. Keen horse rider. Average but enthusiastic skier