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Letter: Universities could take lessons in efficiency

This letter was first published in The Financial Times

The idea of universities as self-governing communities of scholars who do not need effective management is anachronistic in today’s world.

The breadth and complexity of their business has expanded exponentially and they need modern management capabilities to deliver their services. (“Are universities suffering from management bloat?”,, May 18). However, the way operations are run in our universities has clearly failed to adapt effectively or efficiently to the requirements of a modern higher education system.

Highly manual processes, overly customised technologies and difficulties in changing ways of working have resulted in processes that feel more like those found in the wider public sector 10 or 15 years ago. Until universities fully embrace the opportunities of digitisation, modern ways of working and become more agile, we will continue to see a rise in spending on inefficient and outmoded management and administration.

Ian Matthias is the Head of Higher Education at PA Consulting

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  • Ian Matthias

    Ian Matthias

    PA education expert

    Ian is a highly experienced Higher Education expert and is at the forefront of designing innovative university change programmes to transform operations and deliver sustainable improvements.

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Contact the education team