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Chasing a generation of globally mobile students

Helen Warrell

Financial Times

6 October 2014 

PA Consulting Group’s Mike Boxall, a higher education expert, is quoted in an article in the Financial Times The Future of Universities report. Mike comments on the challenges and opportunities facing UK universities as globalisation changes the traditional market. According to the article, western economies are vying to attract a growing pool of youngsters as, in Asia especially, the development of universities has not kept pace with rising levels of affluence.  

While revenue from overseas students has provided a lifeline for cash-strapped institutions, Mike says there are dangers in having too many incomers. “We are hearing anecdotally that [in some universities] this has reached an uncomfortable limit,” he says. “Students who have come halfway round the world to get an English experience… come into a classroom to find there are lots of other international students there too.”

Mike also talks about what the future holds for UK universities. He believes that three categories will emerge – oligarchs, innovators and zombies. Mike explains that the established brands such as Oxford and Cambridge are the oligarchs, whose future is assured. The innovators are the middle-ranking universities who are willing to adopt a risky strategy to attract new students and, finally, there is the zombies, refusing to change and risking extinction. 

Mike goes on to argue that a future challenge will arise for UK universities from students finding alternative access to knowledge and skills, either online, directly from working with industry or through hybrid courses designed and funded by an employer.

He concludes: “The world is in the business of finding solutions to multi-faceted problems and yet universities are still in the business of finding applications for curiosity-driven research. The threat is not recognising this and becoming less and less relevant as time goes on.”

You can read the article in full here


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Here be dragons: 2014 higher education report


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