What delegates will hear at the conference

December 11, 1998

The challenges of the global tuition market

"If global universities do emerge, they may be based not on existing universities but other kinds of organisation. There is little evidence that higher education will be able to mobilise its resources and concert its investment and product strategies to compete with the global organisations that already exist, such as News Corporation and Microsoft.

"And how could global universities be funded? In the absence of supra-national public authorities, it could only be through commercial markets. Again there is little evidence that universities as currently constituted have the degree of commercial organisation required to be genuinely competitive."

Peter Scott, vice-chancellor of Kingston University "We are rapidly observing profound changes in the way students acquire knowledge on local, national and international levels. There are more and more signs that distance and traditional forms of studying are merging and mutually supplementing each other. Besides offering an alternative means of getting a degree, this type of studying can be an effective form of providing retraining and upgrading of courses without involving too much of a break from professional employment or time-consuming travel to the campus."

Jan Sadlak, head of higher education policy at Unesco "Quality concerns will continue to be at the forefront whether the education is provided at campuses in the United Kingdom, at offshore campuses of UK institutions, through collaborative links with institutions in other countries, or by distance learning relying on the internet, video conferencing or other electronic media.

"The UK has the capacity to offer high-quality academic programmes and excellent support systems for international students. There will always be a market for quality. Institutions that want to be successful in attracting international students in future, therefore, will need to ensure that they take seriously the quality of their academic and welfare provision."

Tom Bruch, secretary general of the Lutheran Council of Great Britain; and Alison Barty, counsellor with special responsibility for international students at South Bank University "Universities need to find resources for any non-publicly funded work, including all overseas activity, from (non-government) sources. The legal autonomy of British universities is crucial since overseas earnings accrue to them exclusively and are of no concern to the higher education funding councils.

"(Universities) pursue international agendas by virtue of their autonomy, their language of instruction and their academic as well as financial imperatives. By the same token it is all the more important that individual institutions have a clear view of why and how they intend to fulfil their international missions."

David Elliott, head of the British Council's office in Israel

* The "Tomorrow's World" conference is organised by the Society for Research into Higher Education and sponsored by The Times Higher Education Supplement. It will be held at the University of Lancaster, December 15-17.

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