Further increases are planned in the UK, wherein a 50% of 17 to 30-year-olds would enter higher education by the year 2010, and the fact that the acceptance rates to universities has increased to more than 14% in recent years shows that it would be infinitely easier for the UK to achieve its target for increases in the number of students enrolling for higher education. (Search View, Education, Higher)
Furthermore, since it is a fact that dropout rates remain significantly lower in the UK than in any other European country, and four out of five students complete their graduation courses successfully, Britain produces the largest number of graduates in Europe. The number of universities in the UK has also increased after the binary division between traditional universities and higher education institutions was abandoned in the year 1992, and today, all British institutions come as a part of a single system, and are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Higher Education Council, and the Funding Council for Wales. (Search View, Education, Higher)
Successive governments have made several attempts to redefine the higher education system in order to meet the changing business needs, and the first step in this restructuring has been the wholesale reform of the funding for the purpose, and the outcome has been that public funding has not only been diverted from public to private interests, but also that it has been at time cut. (Whose Universities are they anyway?)
3. What should British universities do to respond to market changes?
David Blunkett, in a speech made on Higher Education at the Maritime Greenwich University, in February 2000, has stated that it was very important to start to take notice of the changes taking place in higher education, and that the future direction of the higher education of the United Kingdom must be assessed and analyzed, and certain steps taken to ensure that it is going in the right direction. He also said that it was only when the funding crisis in higher education became so very important that the Dearing Committee of Inquiry was established, and he stated that at this point every one must remember that between the years 1989 and 1997, the cost for the higher education of every student was cut by a huge 2553 pounds, or a 36% per student, and these cuts had in fact placed an inordinate amount of pressure on the basic ability of institutions of higher education to maintain their existing quality, as well as to response appropriately to the new challenges that they were facing. (David Blunkett's Speech on Higher Education at Maritime Greenwich University)
David Blunkett also said that increasing globalization was changing the face of higher education, and that the arrival of the 'knowledge economy' has in fact increased the various pressures that institutions were already facing. Today, learning has in fact become a big business in the market, and the universities of UK are doing all they can to cope with these changes, but the fact is that there are new providers for this demand everyday, and they are all in the process of expanding the basic learning environment to met the growing demands, and one perfect example is the United States of America. These American providers are in fact in the process of using the competitive advantage and edge that they enjoy, being English speakers, and also utilizing the fact that English is a global language, to expand overseas, having grown quickly and with a high rate of success in their own country. (David Blunkett's Speech on Higher Education at Maritime Greenwich University)
Some American Universities like for example, the University of Phoenix and the Western Governors University are becoming renowned and famous for their facilities for higher education, all over the world. Certain other established providers are also in the process of marketing themselves to new students, so that they may be attracted by their global brands and by the prestige that is generally associated with global branding. In addition, international media is also set to enter the fray, with their forming unique kinds of partnerships wherein the media and the education providers would go hand in hand to exploit the growing market for education, globally.
One example is the purchase of a 25% stake in Scottish Knowledge Inc., by News International, recently. Scottish Knowledge Inc. is an organization that has been formed by several Scottish Higher educational institutions, so that they may be able to capture a big chunk of the share of the overseas market in education. In fact, the Pearson Group, the Harcourt General, the Mc Graw Hill, and Simon and Schuster have all entered into similar partnerships recently with universities in recent years, and this is a growing phenomenon worldwide, and the United Kingdom would do well to emulate this type of alliance and partnership. (David Blunkett's Speech on Higher Education at Maritime Greenwich University)
In the United States of America, the primary focus of higher studies has been on aiding and helping more numbers of students enter the field of higher education, by providing them with billions of dollars by way of loan assistance that would help them finance their education. However, not mush attention has been paid to the phenomenon of students not being able to complete their higher secondary education, and this is one area that the United Kingdom has done infinitely better than any other country in its high rates of completion of higher secondary education among its students. (New Dogs and Old Tricks: What can the UK teach the U.S. about University Education?)
Howard Newby talks about the month of March's allocation for the Higher Education Funding Council for England, was the last of this type of funding, in the year 2005, and from the next year onwards, there would be a newer system, where a 'variable fees system' would be implemented. With that, the HEFCE funding will become an increasingly lesser income provider for universities all across the United Kingdom. The Office for Fair Access further provides injunctions on this matter, and it is said that there will be a growing source of discretionary income for institutions, that they would have the right to spend as they saw fit. Studies and research have shown that the biggest beneficiaries would, of course, be students, who would, through an upgrading of their various student services, would be able to avail of these funds. However, this particular pattern may change as time goes by and the several institutions manage to establish their own solid market position. The question that inevitably arises at this point is, what the HEFCE is providing for, and in what way can the public interest in the subject of higher education be secured, even though it is a fact that the issue is embodied in the continuing investment of public funds. (Facing up to HE's New Economy)
The point must be made here that the universities of the United Kingdom have in fact been in a different type of market situation, wherein strong new international students markets are being combined with the falling and fading away of the other older and traditional types of markets. The 'Higher Education Statistics Authority' has published a report in the UK for the year 2000 to 2001, which reveals that student trends today are in fact quite similar to the student trends demonstrated by the United Kingdom's secondary school market. Furthermore, the falling number of students from a number of important student markets such as, for example, in France and Germany, America and also in Singapore, are in fact being hidden and covered up be the larger numbers of students from China, and this trend has ensured that there would be an overall increase in the number of students, about a 5.5% from 1999. The reason for this phenomenon may be that the international pattern of economic growth has been steadily changing, and this may be the main factor behind the increasing numbers of students form places like China and India. (UK Universities)
The issue of market orientation is a major one in almost all European countries, and the United Kingdom is no exception. Market orientation generally refers to offering institutions of higher education within the country a basic incentive structure that would be very similar to those organizations that operate under any normal market conditions. In the UK, there seems to be a real paradox on the issue of market orientation in higher education, and this may be because of the fact that more often than not, the market and the state are treated as being two different and conflicting methods of coordination, while the truth is that when there is more coordination through markets, then there will be a lesser amount of coordination…