The world of higher education is transforming quickly, perhaps faster than we know it. For example, a well-known philosopher of higher education, Dr. Ron Barnett of the University of London, notes that the language around higher education has changed without many of us realizing it (just think of words like “innovation” and “quality-control,” which are business terms used frequently in the university world). The democratization of knowledge through the internet has evidently changed the media industry, and it looks to be affecting higher education as well, with new platforms such as Udacity, Coursera and edX. However, to what extent can the internet actually transform higher education, whether we look at Canada, Australia, the United States or Europe?
In this late-October report by Ernst & Young, the investigators call for significant changes to the business model of Australian higher education. Simply put, they do not believe that universities can survive for the next 15 years without altering their business model. Thus, Ernst & Young outlines three potential new models of higher education, based significantly on digital media and transformation toward niches (for example, a school that specializes primarily in two or three subject areas). Throughout the report, higher education is said to be the industry that has now reached its turning point, just as media did several years ago. However, how comparable are higher education and media, considering that the latter receives considerable funding from advertisements whereas the former is based on public funds or private endowments? Additionally, what are the implications of seeing universities that provide a diversity of subject areas cut several programs in order to focus on narrow areas of study? Lastly, what are the aims of higher education, and how are these facilitated or hindered with new business models? These are only some of the questions that stem from this report, which has already made waves across the world of higher education.
In order to view the report, follow the links from this page.
CC photograph courtesy of Flickr, found here.