What will higher education look like in 2020?


By Eugene Sebastian

A new study by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education scans the horizon of higher education to see what the future looks like for higher education. The study is based on interviews with 21 international education professionals.

Below are some interesting points from the study:

1.         Competition and cooperation

Universities will continue to seek new partnership models to compete globally.

We are beginning to see more innovative models emerging whether through multilateral consortiums like the World Universities Network and Universitas 21 or through strategic alliances such as the Monash-Warwick partnership.

In the Monash-Warwick case, the alliance seeks to be more relevant to industry, produce graduates that are employable, bring scale to its research and access new source of research funding.

Partnership are involving a wider range of activities including exchanges of staff and students, transnational education (TNE) arrangements, internationalising the curriculum at home and forming research collaborations. These type of partnerships are seen to offer sustainable ways of harnessing international opportunities, and help give the institutions broader exposure and strategic positioning.

The Warwick-Monash model is attempting to be more deeply embedding through a joint academic vice-president appointment to lead on strategy and operations and a series of joint professorial appointments to drive joint research into carefully selected areas. Both universities committed £3m per year for five years and the Alliance has already brought in about £1m in UK and Australian public-sector funding and research grants.

2.         The Demand for higher education

Demand for higher education will continue to increase.

There is a huge unmet demand in emerging economies. India and China together will account for 44% of the world total cohort. Nearly 30% will come from Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Philippines, Mexico, Egypt and Vietnam. Rate of increase in China will however level off for demographic reasons. What is interesting about demand is that Brazil is expected to add 2.6m students to its tertiary enrolment over the next decade. Indonesia is forecasted to add 2.3m and Nigeria with 1.4m.

An interesting point noted in the study is that higher education is not as ‘global’ as some would think. In 2011, only about 2% of higher education students in the world studies in countries other than their own. The figure has been stable almost over a decade.

3.         The Rise of Asia

Some governments in Asia are investing significant national resources to building its higher education sector. The C9 universities in China receive disproportionate support for the purpose of competing with world class universities. This has been occurring for nearly a decade. Return on investments are beginning to happen, especially with Chinese institutions rising rapidly up the global universities rankings.

The centre of gravity for hosting branch campus was shifting from the Middle East to Asia. Branch campus activity will increasingly origincate fro the Far East and emerging economies. IN other words, more universities from the south would move to establish some form of presence in other ‘south’ and ‘north’ countries. This point was also reflected in the Observatory study of Branch Campus released last year.

The report can be found on Observatory on Borderless Higher Education website – though one needs to be a subscriber to view the report.

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