The existence and operation of higher education is threatened

Universities need to adapt quickly to a new reality

8ad11344 9d12 4dec 8d5b ad946fe0ed55 effects, pandemic, higher education


  • EY Global Research on the Future of Higher Education Published as World Education Day
  • Higher education in advanced economies has probably reached its "ceiling" and is at a turning point
  • The turmoil caused by distance education can only be the "iceberg top" of the challenges ahead.
  • For universities to survive, a flexible approach is needed to reinvent them.

EY's new global report, Are universities of the past still the future ?, argues that universities in advanced economies face a number of challenges that may threaten their existence and operation in the wake of its pandemic. COVID-19.

Based on EY analyzes of the future of higher education and interviews with academics from the US, UK, India, Singapore and Australia, the report notes that universities need to quickly adapt to a new reality, which It is shaped by demographic change, geopolitical challenges, changing workplace demands and high student expectations for a quality, digital learning experience.

If universities are unwilling to reconsider their purpose and how they create value, some of the challenges posed by the pandemic COVID-19 they could soon become threats to their very existence. "It's time to start asking difficult questions, questioning the status quo, and looking at the opportunities the pandemic has created, to redefine how, where and to whom higher education is provided," the report concludes.

The report, published on World Education Day on January 24, advises universities to take a "future-back" approach if they want to stay competitive, first looking at what the world will be like in 2030, to understand how five bold scenarios could require a radical transformation of their operating models today:

1. What would happen if the cost of learning was reduced to zero? The wide expansion of digital and distance education is already radically redefining the classroom as we knew it. Universities must adopt digital educational experiences to enhance what makes them unique and, based on that, to reinvent the way they offer knowledge, to meet the needs of tomorrow's students and lifelong learners.

2. What would happen if the "learning journey" became completely flexible and personalized? The force shifts rapidly towards the student. Universities need to recognize this dynamic and provide the personalized and flexible education options that students desire.

3. What if higher education providers could be held accountable for their results? Universities have lost their monopoly on accreditation as lifelong learning certifications are introduced without a degree. Universities need to be prepared for a world where their geographical location or reputation will be less important to students, in terms of the measurable quality and effectiveness of the educational process and the extent to which it helps students meet their individual aspirations for their careers and lives.

4. What would happen if commercially viable research covered its costs on its own? Research is the source of life for universities, as it directly affects their ranking, the ability to attract the brightest minds, but also to create value for society. It is, however, costly and is largely subsidized by tuition revenue. Universities could prioritize commercially driven demand-driven research, work more closely with the economics and capital markets, and work with governments to better fund non-commercial, primary research, which, however, it has national or international value.

5. What if technology could solve the global supply and demand mismatch? Technology helps citizens in developing countries gain access to higher education in new ways, allowing universities to exponentially expand their reach. "Western" universities looking for new markets to expand have a huge opportunity to partner with providers in emerging markets to meet the high demand for high quality education, using technology to scale and afford it. prices.

Catherine Friday, EY's Head of Education worldwide, says:

"The pandemic COVID-19 revealed the distance that universities have to travel to find their place in the education of the future, as well as their over-reliance on on-campus learning and overseas students, as domestic markets for undergraduate programs shrink. There is no going back to the status quo, as technology will continue to change the environment in higher education. "As we celebrate International Education Day, universities need to start thinking and planning now how to address the need for reshaping to fit into the landscape of higher and lifelong learning of the future."

Commenting on the findings of the research, Alexandros Perikleous, Associate Partner, Strategy and Trading Services of EY Cyprus, stated: “The pandemic of COVID-19 confirmed the role that technology can play in seizing new opportunities for higher education, at a critical time when our economies are increasingly based on knowledge. We need to think about how academic institutions will meet the needs and expectations of students in the coming decades and provide affordable, high-quality education to a wider audience. "For Cyprus, this is a critical debate, as the growing sector of higher education seeks to establish itself as a global hub of knowledge and expand its reach."