The growth of consumerism
With the introduction of Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data, the government has directly linked the employment and earnings outcomes of graduates with their undergraduate degree and the higher education institution that they attend. This is likely to cement a growing sense of consumer entitlement among students, as they will be able to directly quantify the benefits derived or lost through the choice of their degree and provider.
The higher education sector is struggling to maintain profitability margins. The fees are set by the government and universities are unable to increase them in line with inflation and rising costs. Consumer expectations are high as students expect campuses to have state of the art facilities and institutions need to remain competitive and therefore need to provide these. Universities are therefore looking at ways to reduce costs and this often results in changes to staff numbers and working hours and conditions, which might affect how the universities will be perceived.
Some students feel that the burden of student loans is too crippling a debt to take on. As a result, a degree apprenticeship, rather than the traditional higher education route, may become a far more attractive option for students. Not only will they complete their degree apprenticeship with no debt, but they will earn as they learn a vocational skill potentially leading to a greater chance of employment.
Shifting industry requirements
Roles within the workforce are changing with increased technology some roles are becoming increasingly obsolete. Students need to be entrepreneurial with an increased emphasis to be placed on life-long learning, to up skill a mature workforce, ensuring that individuals can competently perform their roles.
As a result, the emphasis is shifting from knowledge accumulation to knowledge flows. As such, degrees that take multiple years to complete are no longer appropriate. Rather, employers and employees require access to partial degrees that provide them with ready and immediate access to required knowledge and skill sets. This has the further advantage of targeting an employer’s investment in an employee’s education.
The impact that Brexit will have on the UK’s higher education sector remains unknown. Higher education institutes have started to identify the proportion of their staff on visas, to determine the impact that Brexit may have on their workforces and on their grants for research where UK universities are known as world leaders in certain fields.