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Escaping the Red Queen Effect
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Revealing vice-chancellors' predictions on the impact of funding cuts

The £24 billion UK university sector is bracing itself for deep cuts in its public funding, combined with major changes in government policy and increased competition for students and revenues. Coming after more than 10 years of sustained growth, these changes threaten major shocks to the higher education (HE) system.

Some have predicted that this will lead to a spate of institutional failures, mergers and acquisitions, and permanent changes in the climate of HE. Others, however, disagree and regard current developments as little different to past funding and policy storms, from which universities have emerged relatively unscathed.

So to explore these divergent perspectives in more depth, PA Consulting Group undertook an online survey of university vice-chancellors and other heads of HE institutions. We explored vice-chancellors’ expectations about the impacts of market and funding changes on the HE sector, how they foresaw these developments affecting their own institutions, and how well prepared they felt their universities were for the challenges ahead.

Request a copy of our survey findings. It covers:

  • vice-chancellors’ predictions on the impacts of expected funding, policy and market changes for the UK higher education sector

  • how they expect their own institutions to be affected by these developments

  • where they expect the opportunities for future growth and diversification to arise

  • how well prepared they believe their universities are for realising these opportunities

  • what external and internal constraints they must overcome to sustain the health of their institutions.

The results paint a fascinating picture of a sector on the cusp of major changes: recognising that the world that they have known is being reshaped fundamentally and rapidly, and preparing for an uncertain but certainly more challenging future.  While there is a strong consensus on the scale of disruptions and difficulties facing the university sector, there is a wide diversity of expectations about the impacts for individual institutions and on the priorities for managing them. 

The survey and its findings will be of interest to everyone involved with the leadership and development of UK universities in coming years, and also to those responsible for shaping policy towards the sector.

Request a copy of our vice chancellors' survey findings.

To speak to an expert to understand how your university can plan for the uncertainties ahead, please contact us now.

The "Red Queen" image, reproduced by kind permission of Macmillan Children's Books, is taken from "Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there" by Lewis Carroll. © 1872 Macmillan and Co.