UK sector fears global talent-poachers

Institutional ‘risk registers’ flag growing worry that top managers will be lured abroad

August 1, 2013

Pinched: UK institutions fear overseas universities will snap up senior staff

Universities are increasingly fearful that their senior managers will be poached by institutions elsewhere in the world, according to an analysis of risks to the academy.

The consultancy Deloitte looked at the risk registers of 20 institutions, ranging from small specialists to large universities, and found that they see significantly more threats on the horizon than last year.

In April 2012, fewer than one in five institutions had “senior management risk” on the radar, but a year later more than 60 per cent saw it as a major threat.

Richard Evans, a general manager at Deloitte Public Sector Internal Audit, said “competition for the leadership is growing” with other universities across the world. The widely admired UK sector is a natural hunting ground for foreign institutions, for example in Australia, keen to poach top managers, he said.

The rise in the perception of “senior management risk” also referred to the danger of having a weak vice-chancellor or senior team in place just as the academy is in a period of flux, Mr Evans said.

“The big problems in UK institutions come down to governance,” he argued. “If the right person isn’t at the top it has an impact through the whole institution.”

About seven in ten institutions listed “international strategy” as a risk in 2013, compared with three in 10 a year ago. Universities are increasingly thinking about their partnerships, branch campuses and other ventures outside the UK, Mr Evans said, and were more worried about the risk of not internationalising.

In the past, individual academics tended to strike up global collaborations on their own, but universities were now “working out what everyone’s up to” and looking to direct activity more strategically, he said.

More than half of universities now list “IT and infrastructure” as a risk, and some of this concern related to cybersecurity and the theft of confidential research or personal data, Mr Evans said. Universities needed to look to “the corporate sector [which] has a real focus on cybersecurity”.

Since April 2012, when it was listed as a risk by one in three universities, concern about the UK Border Agency has rocketed. (The body was abolished in March and its visa-issuing role has been taken over by the Home Office).

With the suspension of London Metropolitan University’s licence to sponsor international students in August 2012 (it was reinstated in April of this year), almost all the institutions Deloitte surveyed listed “UKBA” as a risk.

This showed that the sector was “quite reactive”, Mr Evans said. “It’s not getting ahead of the game.”

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Analyst

Greenwich School Of Management Ltd

PhD Research Fellow in Medical Physics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Senior Knowledge Officer

European Association For International Education

Postdoctoral position in Atmospheric and Space Physics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes