Scenario A: uni_divide
Scenario A: Competitive Society & Contracting Economy
The broader outlook
The UK and Europe have continued to endure economic decline and government budgets can no longer justify funding or subsidising higher education.
Politics has polarised as the perpetual failure to deliver long-term solutions to economic woes has produced wider and more varied representation. As Europe is unable to provide tangible economic benefits, the UK has become increasingly protectionist and independent from the European Union. The most visible manifestation of this has been the curbing of inward EU migration.
High unemployment and a stalling of social mobility has increased the spectre of societal unrest. Median incomes have fallen, low civic engagement has persisted and fuel poverty has become a reality for a growing number of households.
Two tier university system
Universities have become entirely independently funded for teaching and research. Subsequently, the higher education sector has become increasingly hierarchical. Only a few universities can facilitate diverse student experiences and purely academic research. Most universities rely on partnerships with businesses that in turn become more deeply involved in designing courses, directing research and organising departments.
A small cluster of elite universities can draw funding from various sources, most visibly from their high fees and a quasi-monopoly on international students who, along with the much reduced domestic wealthy middle class, can afford the prohibitive prices and continue to crave ‘old world’ education.
There are fewer UK universities. Many universities merge, close or streamline their operations to become extensions of business’ human resources or research and development arms. Some will develop strong international delivery arms with limited function in the UK. Institutional functions have become increasingly utilitarian to service their funders and the breadth of degrees offered is reduced.
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