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Escaping the Red Queen Effect – re-thinking the university in the new economics of higher education

A permanent change in the economics of higher education has been created by the global recession, continuing reductions in public spending and challenging market conditions.  The impact of this shift for universities is immediate and dramatic. Many higher education institutions are projecting significant financial deficits; a growing number face risks to their very survival.

As a result of these challenges, many higher education institutions have found themselves caught in the ‘Red Queen’ effect.  Like Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen, higher education institutions have been “running as hard as they can” to break even, but without making progress towards more sustainable futures.

Higher education institutions must undertake a fundamental rethinking of their assumptions on current university business models to match the changed economics of higher education.

A radical rethink of the future university 

Rethinking higher education for the future should entail 'thinking the unthinkable' in terms of the basic building blocks of the 21st century university. These include:

  • the nature and presentation of higher education offers and services

  • the ways that different customer needs for higher education services are met

  • how higher education institutions organise themselves and secure the capabilities they need

  • how quality is interpreted and assured. 

Radical rethinking of the university from the ‘outside in’, from the viewpoint of clients and competitors for services, opens the possibility of new models of higher education. These include the Amazon University, the On-Demand University, the Learning Hotel and the Umbrella University – all with successful analogues in other sectors and even in other parts of the higher education market place.

To learn more about the Red Queen effect in higher education, and how you can break free from it, please contact us now.

Contact the government and public sector team