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The Future of Universities The role of universities in society and the economy

The Professor

At the start of a new academic year, it is worth reflecting that Higher Education is facing a future that is both more challenging than at any point in the last century but also presents more opportunities for innovative organisations than ever before. The very nature of higher education, how it is delivered, and the role of universities in society and the economy is going to change significantly over the next decade.

This change will be driven by a combination of competitive, demographic and regulatory forces that are only now starting to emerge. The sector is entering a period of real uncertainty, and many institutions are not yet ready to exploit the opportunities or protect themselves from the forces impending. Universities are facing a stark decision – make the right choice, embrace the new opportunities and succeed, or make the wrong choice and get left behind. This is truly a tipping point.

A few weeks ago, The Futures Academy orchestrated a workshop exploring “University Futures” in advance of a Strategic Foresight Exercise for a particular university in Ireland. Somewhat arbitrarily, here below are a few of the findings. (They are unoriginal, haphazard and times contradictory, being directly borrowed from the participants and the sources they used).

The Professor

About John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe is President of The Futures Academy, which he founded in 2000, and a Fellow of Oxford Brookes University. Until 2009, he was a Director of the Dublin Institute of Technology, where he remains as Professor Emeritus. In the past, he has served as: Secretary-General of the World Futures Studies Federation; Vice-President of the European Futurists Conference; Chairman of the London Branch of the RICS, and first Chair of the Institution’s International Policy Committee; and, Chairman of the European Policy and Practice Committee for the Urban Land Institute. A prolific author and public orator, he has acted as a consultant to countries, cities, corporations, colleges and communities in the area of Strategic Foresight, and is currently conducting several projects in the fields of: “Cities of Tomorrow”; “Future Horizons for Global Real Estate”; and, “Anticipatory Leadership”. Familiarly, his favourite adage is Einstein’s: “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Articles by John Ratcliffe

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