The Golden Age of universities in the developed world is passing and life is becoming tougher. Rising costs are no longer matched by a willingness of governments and students to pay for them.  Traditional operating models cannot produce sufficient productivity gains to cover the gap. 

Soaring costs and chronic funding challenges are nothing new. But today’s universities are being buffeted by game-changing technology, disruptive competition from bold new players, evolving demographics, and heightened expectations for personalised service amid spiralling tuition fees, crippling student debt and emerging doubts about higher education’s return on investment. Challenges facing the sector have been further amplified by COVID-19, restricting the movement of international students and changing demand profiles.

Traditional universities are approaching a crossroads: Do they transform into new kinds of entities? Optimise existing operations to enhance efficiencies and capabilities? Do nothing in the hope that if no rescue appears, they will have time to decide what to do later? Or do nothing in the belief that they are invulnerable?

KPMG International’s The future of higher education in a disruptive world provides a timely and insightful analysis of the current state of the sector and maps out four ‘building blocks’ designed to foster innovation, competitiveness and survival in a new era. In support of this campaign, KPMG also commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey university leaders in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia and India.  This research shows that universities are still struggling amid barriers to progress that include expertise and technology limitations, security and privacy issues, and outdated processes.

Ultimately, today’s higher education leaders must face critical questions requiring timely and strategic responses that will define their future in a competitive new world.