Universities should become more like private sector companies, axeing weaker courses and focusing on their strengths, vice-chancellors are to be told.
To compete successfully in increasingly competitive global markets, British universities must be prepared to reorganise themselves radically along business lines, a paper from the Council for Industry and Higher Education argues.
They must establish partnerships with other universities and international private education and training providers to focus their resources, and they should be prepared to buy in some products and services from others, says the CIHE.
The paper, to be considered by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals' longer term strategy group, says that to meet global challenges universities must pool resources "to create world-beating products that can be offered to corporate universities and companies around the world as well as to individual students".
Richard Brown, CIHE chief executive, said: "A private company would not even consider attempting an assault, say, on the Malaysian market, without first getting into bed with some big players in its field. We should be thinking along the same lines."