Universities: 2021 and beyond

Posted: 09/10/2020

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hosting a webinar with Professor David Lloyd, VC at UniSA and Professor Pascale Quester, VC at Swinburne University. We talked about the future of universities in 2021 and beyond as the sector emerges into a post-COVID-19 era. Both were optimistic about the future, and both have strong views about what is needed for future success and sustainability. I would encourage you to have a listen HERE.

Most interesting for me, and possibly most controversial for the sector, were their views that survival of universities will require a strong degree of specialisation. The Dawkins-era University, a homogenous blend of all things to all people, is unlikely to be the model of success for the future.

While some generalist universities are likely to survive, most are going to have to specialise and become known for something, other than merely existing. And for students, this may mean having to move states to follow your passion.

Of course, this is not new. There are specialist universities across the UK, US and NZ systems, and students in all those countries leave home to travel to their university of choice and follow their career of choice. But in Australia, this remains a very foreign option. Australian school leavers tend not only to stay in their state but also to attend their local university. After all, it is probably offering the same options as all the other universities.

Loughborough University in the UK is known for its sporting achievements. It teaches and researches all aspects of sport from sports medicine thought to training PE teachers. I met the VC in late 2016, not long after the Rio Olympics. He was quick to point out that Loughborough (students) had won more Gold Medals than Australia, and had it been a country it would have ranked 6th (Australia was 10th).

What does your university stand for? Does it offer anything unique? Can you put your hand on your heart and say “we’re recognised Australia-wide (or world-wide) for being the best at …”?

If you want to talk about your opportunities for post-COVID success feel free to call Ian Thomson, Head of Consulting at DVE Solutions on 0477 336 424 or email at ian.thomson@dvesolutions.com.au