On the crest of a wave

Adapting to changes in the economic climate

By Professor David Russell, Founder and Chairman of the Russell Partnership

Global HE sectors around the world are adapting to social, economic and cultural changes. In order to stay current and continue delivering a superior student experience, optimal facilities and bespoke catering we must respond accordingly to national – and international – trends and developments.

International HE trends are rapidly shifting, and are as diverse as the cultures they correspond to. We can look to intercontinental developments in China and the UAE, to understand reactivity to social and economic demands.

In recent years, China’s economic growth has been lower than average. This had led to all sectors facing greater competition and volatility. China’s students are facing the consequences, as graduates are struggling to find jobs and pay back student debts. China’s HE sector is preparing students for the economic market by offering vocational qualifications and driving employment in the SME sector.

‘The UAE have begun expanding Abu Dhabi University to manage with rising student numbers, which have expanded a colossal 1,200% in the past 10 years, with overall enrolment in the UAE rising 20% during 2014/2015′

Similarly, environmental concerns in China are driving HE sectors to act sustainably. Over the past years, the University of Hong Kong recently implemented the ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ campaign, which composted 400kg food waste per week and similarly increased awareness of sustainable practice. Reflected in this is the proliferation of organic food within China: sales have tripled since 2007 and currently account for 1% of total food consumption. Furthermore, the Chinese government is endeavouring to optimise use of scarce farmland, reducing water use and cutting back on expensive imports of grains and soybeans by encouraging the population to consume more potatoes, as opposed to rice.

Conversely, all economic climates are different and outputs vary depending on climate. For example, the UAE is now claiming to be a ‘global hub’ of industry, development and education. In light of this, the UAE have begun expanding Abu Dhabi University to manage with rising student numbers, which have expanded a colossal 1,200% in the past 10 years, with overall enrolment in the UAE rising 20% during 2014/2015.

So, based on global developments, how can we prepare our HE sector for fluctuating economic conditions? We must ensure we are current and knowledgeable on national developments, encompassing social, economic, cultural and demographic shifts. We must understand our students on a physical, psychological and social level to deliver appropriate services, facilities and education that are in synergy and relevant to national and international development and changes.

So just stay on the ‘crest of a wave’ and don’t fall behind…

W: www.russellpartnership.com

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