I attended an event organized by the UK’s Guardian newspaper group on the future of Higher Education last month.
There was some really interesting dialogue: particularly focussed around the new university fees structure in the UK, and implications for student decision making around courses. There are a lot of unknowns from the fees increase. Will students expect more value, and what will that value look like? Will there be a shift towards more ‘employable’ subjects? Will this therefore lead to institutions closing certain offerings, or specialising? Will there also be a shift towards shared resources across institutions? For example shared library resources?
Postgraduate education is likely to be hardest hit by the cuts: if students are left facing debt for undergraduate degrees, what incentives can be made to ensure that the brightest continue on to do further postgraduate education?
There was also a lot of food for thought around raising aspirations much earlier, i.e. at school level. Life choices are, according to Steve Smith (Universities UK), defined at the age of 5! Many speakers mentioned the need to spend more time thinking about how to engage the 14-yr olds and 16yr olds making curricula decisions, which will affect their choices for university.
This is just a snapshot of some of the discussions. To read the Guardian’s coverage from the event, including a live blog from the event itself, visit the Guardian’s Higher Education network