HORIZON SCANNING: what will higher education look like in 2020? - an International Unit publication

This new study by the Observatory team takes as its baseline my 2008 forward-look, and not only 

brings it up to date, but, while still working from a UK perspective, takes a far more comprehensive 

look at what can only really now be seen as an inter-connected global sector. 

This should now be the starting point for the future. It is detailed, it is readable, it is measured 

in its conclusions, and it is rich in argument. There are recurrent themes. There is now an 

assumption that collaboration of some sort - co-existing with competition – is an inevitable part of 

internationalisation. 

The vertically integrated, homogeneous, self-standing institution is under considerable challenge 

– which does not mean it will vanish, melt, or be ‘sliced’ to death as one recent study puts it, but it 

does mean things will change. Crucially, there is time for institutions to manage this change, and it 

should not be disruptive in the negative sense, despite the speculation of some analysts and the 

popular press. 

Demand will continue to grow, but not always where intuitively we might think, and not as a simple 

extension of the trends in growth we see today. And political action not really connected to the 

University sector can have significant knock-on effects, and significant collateral damage. T

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