Lindsey Paterson, partner for higher education assurance for PwC in Scotland recently hosted a PwC Higher Education seminar aimed at identifying issues facing the sector in the coming years with a look at the opportunities and risks ahead.
Scotland has a proud heritage in higher education and consistently punches above its weight in national and international rankings for the sector. But education is becoming increasingly global in nature and the sector is facing increasing challenges from global megatrends such as digital disruption, shifting demographic and changing regulatory and tax landscapes.
The PwC seminar touched upon PwC’s global megatrends report and the risks that are prevalent in the sector, using recent benchmarking analysis. The challenges and opportunities these trends and risks bring for higher education were explored, particularly from an internationalisation perspective.
PwC has identified five global megatrends after conversations with experts across the globe:
When you consider these megatrends in the context of internationalisation, it is no wonder that Scottish universities are increasingly looking to expand their presence overseas to attract international students with spending power as well as key talent. Many have already looked to E7 markets, in particular China and we anticipate that the next push will be in frontier markets, for example Nigeria.
Expanding internationally represents a great opportunity but is not without risk. Often internationalisation requires significant capital expenditure and the projects can have a high profile. Reputation is key across the sector, and therefore having a robust framework for managing the associated risk is particularly important.
The event closed with the feeling that while competition across the higher education is fierce, Scottish universities are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities.