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University challenged

Author: Ian Arbuthnott

It is an interesting time for universities as they respond to a changing environment that threatens their financial sustainability. If universities are to continue to provide the very best student education and further their academic research, they will need to address an increasing cost burden and risks to key government and teaching fee revenue streams.


When an organisation’s financial sustainability is challenged, it must have the ability to innovate and change in response to the threat. Benchmarking reports can inform where the priorities lie, but how does a university set about tackling them? Change projects are notable across industry for, more often than not, failing to deliver their intended benefits*.

Organisations require an approach, as well as the capability and tacit knowledge, to deliver the anticipated improvements and, most importantly, sustain this change for the long-term.

Critically, this is not just an issue for those at the top of the organisation. In flatter, more complex organisational structures, top down change does not deliver the desired outcomes. So change must be tackled by leaders across departments and functions and engage all employees – and this is no small task.

Higher education organisations need to address revenue risks, tackle rising costs, and reap the full benefits of their significant size. Engaged employees, with the collective will to change behaviours and adopt new ways of working, will be critical to achieving success.

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Next article: Increasing costs and risks to revenue

*Gartner, Change Management, 2018, https://gtnr.it/2Kp0rED 

The Unipart Way: performance improvement that sustains

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