There is little doubt that higher education is going to change. For hospitality, the existing model does seem to be struggling and higher education does need to present a stronger vision for the student experience into the future.
The world of higher education has long seemed as though it dances to its own tune and is a step removed from the industry. It must now be time to challenge this and for there to be a stronger vision for what can be developed in the future.
There are growing questions being asked and the noise is increasing. There is also a seeming growing split in views:
- Some look at the ever-rising prices and current demand profiles and say that the model is secure and prospering.
- In contrast, some look at falling birth rates, pressure on affordability, the costs and benefits of digitization, and emerging new competitors, and say that the current model is under real pressure
- And then there are those in the industry asking if the model is fit for purpose.
- And those young talents asking for higher education to inspire them in fields where they want to learn – about sustainability, social inclusion, understanding cultural diversity.
Is the system strong enough to be ready for the future? Is there a vision for how the existing system will evolve to meet the needs of tomorrow?
A few thoughts:
- The UK hospitality industry is world-class. It needs a strong partnership with higher education where the two are aligned. There are great examples of great schools but they seem too isolated and almost fighting the system.
- Even if one does not agree with the above, the higher education system surely requires a fundamental rethink as students shift and embrace more digital ecosystems for learning & knowledge creation. It will not be long before an online hotel school emerges that does not carry the same cost.
- As business reinvents itself, doesn’t higher education need to as well? Controversial as it may be, one has to ask if universities have pushed the envelope to improve their offers since 2010. How will they remain competitive as they plan for the future?
- With all the concerns over recessions and financial struggles, surely universities must create a stronger engagement process to future-proof themselves for the future?
One can argue that there are a growing set of questions being posed about the value and relevance of many higher education establishments. There is a need for new thinking and new visions to be explored.
Higher education can be a very insular world and it needs transforming. Just as technology empowered the employee, so it will empower the student. In a world of “work from anywhere,” people also want to “learn from anywhere.” New education platforms will be rising to meet this demand.
Change is inevitable and it is coming.