UK academic institutions will face stiffer competition for masters-level students and the staff who teach them under new laws that will unify higher education systems across Europe, a report has warned.
The 40 European countries that have signed the Bologna Accord will this year begin to introduce reforms that will replace traditional continental five-year degrees with an Anglo-American style bachelor-masters system by 2010.
A study of the impact of this shift by the Graduate Management Admissions Council has concluded that it will bring an explosion of new masters courses across Europe, including the UK, along with significantly increased mobility of academics and students.
A report on the findings predicts that in management education alone - the focus of the GMAC study - about 12,000 new masters programmes will be created.
Its authors warn that although UK institutions might assume that they are well placed to benefit from this expanded market, those that fail to respond and adjust to the competition could end up losing the chance to recruit and retain the best students and staff.