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‘Here be dragons’

PA's Higher education survey 2014

How universities are navigating the uncharted waters of higher education

Download the full report

Here be monsters

Over recent years, the leaders of many UK universities[1] have steered their institutions into previously unexplored seas, including international ventures, public-private collaborations and a fiercely competitive marketplace for students and fees. They have encountered few dragons, but many have found these new worlds to be far less predictable and much riskier than the government-funded and secure domain they reluctantly left behind.

Mike Boxall and Paul Woodgates, PA higher education experts discuss the findings from PA's 2014 higher education survey [PSw1mqe20Go]
Mike Boxall and Paul Woodgates, PA higher education experts discuss the findings from PA's 2014 higher education survey

This is the report of our sixth annual survey of university vice-chancellors[2]. It explores how vice-chancellors are steering their institutions through the new risks and uncertainties of higher education (HE) markets, and their predicted outlook for their own institutions and the wider sector.

Download the full report

One third of all the institutional heads in the UK responded

[1] We use the term ‘universities’ as shorthand for all types of recognised public and private higher education provider
[2] We use the term ‘vice-chancellors’ to embrace all heads of higher education institutions


In the media

Times Higher Education - Vice-chancellors voice frustrations with policies

Mike Boxall and Paul Woodgates, PA higher edcation experts discuss PA’s annual vice-chancellor survey which sets out a growing sense of grievance from universities towards government.

Snapshot of findings

Our report paints a picture of a resilient and capable university sector responding confidently to changing business situations – but there are some disconcerting paradoxes behind this self-assured portrayal.

“Damage is already being done by immigration controls but the situation could get much worse if we were to destabilise the country’s reputation by further discouraging the free movement of students and academics” - UK university leader

70% of vice-chancellors feel very strongly that government policies and interventions represent the greatest risk and constraints to their success

“I don't think the government knows what it is doing and, worse, it doesn't seem to care. It views the market as sovereign and seems not to be bothered about the consequences.” - UK university leader

92% of vice-chancellors were confident in the long-term resilience of their own institutions. 4% were very confident about the resilience of the wider HE market
Fewer than 10% thought it very unlikely that reform of the system would feature as a major priority for any of the major political parties.
Declining markets

Many vice-chancellors welcome a more dynamic and direct system, which will create both opportunity and risk.

“There is an emerging polarisation between institutions that have positioned themselves strongly in the free market and those that have been forced into defensive behaviours; it is the uncertain situation of the latter institutions which is most likely to result in sector instability.” - UK university leader

86% identified the challenges of generating sufficient student fees and other income to replace lost government grants as a major or moderate constraint.

identified the challenges of generating sufficient student fees and other income to replace lost government grants as a major or moderate constraint.

more

Yet most remain committed to their core teaching and research activities

...and do not foresee sufficient revenue or return becoming available from new HE markets and services

The majority of institutions remain committed to their core teaching and research activities

Contact us

To find out more, contact the authors of the report Mike Boxall and
Paul Woodgates.
 

Mike Boxall

Mike Boxall
PA higher education expert
Email | LinkedIn

Paul Woodgates - Education Partner

Paul Woodgates
PA higher education expert
Email | LinkedIn

Here be monsters

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