Going global – the big new world of higher education?

According to a report that has just been published in the UK, we can expect that globalisation will have a much more visible impact on universities in the near future. Until now, the international dimension of higher education in this part of the world has mainly been experienced through overseas student recruitment, the development of some sort of tangible presence by universities of one in country in another country (mainly through smaller branch campuses or marketing offices), and the establishment of multi-country research teams. These phenomena, while more in evidence now than they used to be, have not however fundamentally altered the shape of higher education.

Now, according to a report commissioned by Universities UK and prepared by the law firm Eversheds, all that may be about to change dramatically. The document, entitled Developing future university structures: new funding and legal models, predicts a number of new developments, including a wave of mergers and clusterings between institutions (including some non-HE institutions), more private sector involvement, the establishment of branches of US universities this side of the Atlantic, the private take-over of some publicly funded institutions, multi-jurisdiction universities, and (intriguingly) the possible alignment of some higher education and health service organisations.

Of course it is impossible to predict any of this with accuracy, and to me at least some of the predictions seem a tad fanciful, but it is clear nonetheless that the structures of higher education and of the sector’s institutions will change over the next decade or so. In this particular world it will be important for individual institutions to be clear as to the alliance or cluster in which they will find their strategic partners. Some may exist outside of all this, and some of the large traditional institutions may not feel the need to change at all. But some of the new configurations may become very powerful, and may be more visibly involved in the translation of the knowledge generated or disseminated within the institution to its use in the community or in business.

Of course Irish higher education is currently being subjected to a more general strategic review. In this the emphasis has to date been on the reconfiguration of the sector within its domestic context. It may be time to factor in global opportunities and threats.

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5 Comments on “Going global – the big new world of higher education?”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Giver that a huge amount of money came because of the arms race over the past 60 or so years. How exactly can secrecy be maintained in this new world.

  2. Jilly Says:

    And not a mention of Dermot Desmond’s whizzy new scheme for a ‘global university’! The model for us all, surely?

    • Iainmacl Says:

      You mean “Vanity U”. Another project based on the principle that if you don’t pay tax you can seek plaudits by giving donations to causes you decide are worthy rather than the real needs the tax system is designed to address?

      Look forward to lectures from Prof. Bono and his ilk….

      • Jilly Says:

        I’m particularly looking forward to watching Van Morrison wrestling to make his degree programme’s credit weightings compliant with the Bologna Agreement…

  3. Vincent Says:

    After this budget the re-filling of the council estates in the UK has started. Well done, I must say.


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