Posted about 6 years ago by Mike Saks

Riding the Waves of UK Higher Education Policy Change


​Guest post by Research Professor Mike Saks.

Ahead of my keynote address at the HR Moves Higher Education Symposium at the RSA in London on Wednesday 13 May, I wanted to outline some of the key themes that I will be focusing on in a system that has rarely faced such a high degree of turbulence:

  • The increasing transparency of student satisfaction and other quality metrics in a competitive market place

  • The removal of the Student Number Cap, creating threats to less established universities

  • The challenge of Government immigration policy to overseas student recruitment

  • The need to constantly enhance research for prestige and revenue, through the Research Excellence Framework and other means

  • The implications of the election, including the desire by Labour to reduce student tuition fees from £9k pa to £6k pa.

As university leaders are aware, the challenges are numerous and multi-faceted. The need for our institutions to change and adapt at speed is therefore vital, particularly in light of the range of different ranking systems that affect the way universities are perceived by parents, prospective students, peers, employers and other partners locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

As I will relay in my presentation, as leaders in the higher education space, we have the power and the responsibility to reform our institutions and to meet these challenges head on. A key strategy is to ask testing questions of ourselves and see such challenges as less of a threat and more as an opportunity to develop our institutions in a positive way.

Within this framework external constraints and pressures can be used as a creativity tool to try to break path dependence and create transformative strategies for radical change. This involves reflection on whether we are asking the right questions and providing the appropriate answers to move our universities forward – as well as learning from best practice in the sector.

The HR Moves Academics’ Spring Symposium aims to facilitate discussion of effective responses to the challenges facing the university sector. It covers the essential ingredients for success – from enhancing strategic planning and recruitment to strengthening development amongst teams and individuals. If you would like more information, or would like to attend, please contact
Mike Saks will be speaking at HR Moves Academics Spring Symposium on the 13th May.