Deloitte: Higher education must adapt to avoid 'perfect storm'
- United Arab Emirates: Thursday, August 18 - 2011 at 16:31
- PRESS RELEASE
The 10 key challenges facing universities across the globe have been set out in Making the Grade 2011, a recently launched higher education report from Deloitte. The report shows that higher education institutions urgently need to adapt to avoid a 'perfect storm' as budgets are squeezed, staff and students become harder to attract and competition heats up.
1. Funding - the education sector was disproportionately hit during the financial crisis with funding from government, private sector and individuals drying up. Deloitte's report recommends universities proactively streamline business processes and back-end systems and explore new revenue opportunities. Due to the highly competitive landscape, some North American institutions are considering establishing low-cost campuses and development programs in fast growing regions such as the United Arab Emirates.
2. Widening access - Universities can do more to supplement government-led action to improve participation from underprivileged groups. Policies such as remote learning, financial aid programs and faculty diversity will help attract a broader range of students.
3. Rivalry - universities face increased competition as tuition costs rise, changing demographic trend affects enrolment patterns and international study becomes increasingly popular. Deloitte urges universities to look at how they can attract students from around the world and align the education they offer with the needs of their key target groups.
4. Set priorities - Universities do not move swiftly enough to adjust internal processes and meet new goals. Many universities lack strategic budget plans, are slow to scrap unpopular programs and do not effectively share resources across the institution. Strategic planning, rationalization and streamlined decision making are all identified by Deloitte as key priorities.
5. Technology - Ageing technology systems are hindering information sharing and back-office systems. Students would benefit from more web-based learning, streamlined registration, enrolment and payment and better means of communication with teachers and classmates. Investing in IT and maximizing the use of existing systems will, therefore, be crucial.
6. Infrastructure - Expansion of campuses and maintenance of existing facilities has become difficult or impossible. Universities should look to optimize their real estate assets through private partnerships or expanding the non-academic use of their property.
7. Link to outcomes - Vocational courses are catching up with traditional universities' records on graduate employment and salaries. Universities will need to re-focus on vocational education, closely aligned to employers' needs and students' long term employment.
8. Attracting talent - Many universities lack strategies to attract talent, measure performance and enhance quality. The ageing workforce and low retirement rates disproportionately affect the sector. To recruit and retain the best staff, universities must implement comprehensive HR strategies.
9. Sustainability - While new buildings or IT projects, for example, are being made energy-efficient, more needs to be done across whole campuses. Sustainable practices in areas such as waste, transport and utilities will improve environmental performance and minimize costs.
10. Regulation - The education sector is caught in the crossfire by new regulations in areas such as loan financing, transparency and migration. Universities will need to invest in new mechanisms for meeting their regulatory requirements efficiently and cost-effectively.
Rachid Bachir, Director, Public Policy, Consulting, at Deloitte says: "While each country has its own unique issues, the key challenges facing universities transcend national borders. The economic environment, increased competition, outdated practices and new regulation are all combining to create the perfect storm for higher education intuitions across the globe."
He adds: "Universities in the Middle East and worldwide need to look at modernizing their way of working, getting the most out of their assets and update their internal procedures to respond effectively to change. This will help attract the best staff and students and meet the needs of their various constituencies, including employers."
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