A lack of cash and the constraints of quality assessment mean that business schools will no longer be able to deal directly with business, according to Ray Wild, principal of the Henley Management College.
"Business schools are increasingly being regulated... Financing is changing and competition is increasing," Professor Wild told a human resources development conference.
"Businesses are under more pressure and have a lower tolerance level in their relationship with business schools. He added that businesses "wish to be identified with what is provided".
Intermediary "intruders" are emerging to fill the gap between business schools and business. These include private for-profit ventures and organisations run by higher education institutions in collaboration with commercial partners.
At present, less than 10 per cent of education providers with a direct link to business are corporate providers; in five years, this figure will reach 50 per cent, Professor Wild predicted.
Research-led business schools can afford to remain in their niche markets.
"They have a clear alternative goal - research and scholarship," Professor Wild said.
However, others need to change their attitudes to remain competitive. "Academic institutions obviously need to establish close partnership arrangements with business and to be flexible and responsive to their needs," he said.
"Academic institutions must also be prepared to work with others... big schools are reluctant to lend their names to activities that might weaken their brand."
Professor Wild did see a positive side to the changes: "Schools will be better able to specialise and better able to differentiate and not have to compete on the same territory."