The influence of business and industry as drivers for change in UK higher education

Tim McLernon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The rationale underpinning UK Higher Education (UKHE) has changed significantly over the last 20 years. Government policy has dictated that 50% of 18 to 30 year olds should be in higher education by the year 2010. Students enter higher education almost solely for the exchange value of the qualification and the expectation of enhanced career prospects in business and industry. This paper argues that UK higher education is not responding to the drivers for change demanded by the key stakeholders and as a result, advances in business and industry are compromised by the inadequacies of graduates. The current HE system has evolved steadily into its current form. However the last two decades have seen radical changes in the demands of stakeholders. These changes were identified by Sporn at the European level as: 'three major challenges: expansion, diversification, and massification'. Higher Education systems have not been sufficiently reactive to these step changes. The paper sets out a current view of HE based on evidence collected through participant observation and data from key stakeholders. It highlights deficiencies in HE which impact adversely on business and industry and which have been created by inherited structures. Some of these proposed deficiencies have been identified such as the funding of HE, the tension between research and teaching, the separation of vocational and non vocational disciplines, the radical advances in ICT, the demands of the key stakeholders and the inability to foster creativity and innovation in the curriculum. The author offers a discussion framework will be constructed to initiate a discourse on how best HE can meet the needs of business and industry more effectively over the next twenty years.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)153-159
    JournalIndustry and Higher Education
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


    • higher education policy
    • higher education strategy
    • business demands
    • stakeholders
    • graduate competences
    • UK.


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