Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Don't worry, give value...

A break from marking projects...

The HE press and lobbying groups are getting in a lather over referendum this week. And before that there is the usual rather undue focus on policy and lobbying with the state (in its widest sense) as the primary actor.

I just can't get away from the feeling that we have missed the point and have been for a long while.

Yes, we exist in a regulated industry. Yes, the world does not owe us a living. But we seem to forget that the reason why the UK HE sector does well is because we actually do deliver value to those we educate and do research with.

UK universities have become successful because they done this (and government has not got in the way THAT excessively). No matter what the imposed market structures may have been the research and teaching offer in the UK is sufficently strong for students, organisations and researchers to come across the world to engage with us (and often pay serious money for this).

Whatever the structure and policy of the state (in its widest sense), it is how we ensure that we keep providing value to our stakeholders that counts. The sector is full of committed and talented people who will find a way to make scholarship pay the bills.

We've had universities survive and thrive over a number of historical shocks for that reason. The sector has shown a remarkable capacity for reinvetion. We can continue to do so whatever happens, despite any shocks, so long as we focus on why UK HE has been successful up to now.

Like the economy in general, if you can offer something that gives real value to others, then they will come. We will do well to focus on that, and ask the state to allow us to do that.

We would also do well to help incolate this mindset into our students, so we can help them realise their potential when they become our alumni.

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