(posted also in Posterous, but not sure how Posterous is working at the moment)
This is way off at a tangent but the news this week so far is raising the question - Could the finances of UK universities be such that some sort of problem will appear? Yesterday there was a report from the IPPR
Today there is a Guardian report that Ucas numbers on applications are not being released because of "potential volatility in supply and demand" . The report mentions some named universities where there may be problems.
There may be a chance here for a look at universities as organisations. So far theory about quality has been seen as largely outside the scope that academics are interested in to study. I may be out of date about this but I think books such as "Making Quality Critical" are still influential, especially with people working on management learning.
If UK universities need to move out of crisis it could open up a debate.
A few things strike me about both reports and the comments on the Guardian site.
Sir Michael Barber is chief education adviser of Pearson so may have his own interests. But I think Pearson has been engaged with digital over a long time period. Online is sometimes dismissed as commercial, but I think universities need to work on it in their own way.
Matt Robb, a consultant at Parthenon, predicts that some universities will sell off assets such as business schools to cover the shortfall in fees. This is obviously speculation. But how are business schools regarded?
It seems to be the big cities that are mentioned as in trouble. Universities may have lost a local base as they relate to a global market.
An absence of numbers is not going to help much in the long run, but things could be more clear in a year or two.
Prof Paul O'Prey, vice-chancellor of Roehampton University, where home-student applications are up 27% this year after a dip in 2012, agrees that universities need to adapt to survive in the competitive new world of higher fees. "The ability to diversify and innovate is really important. We are widening our activities and developing new income streams. For example, we have gone into partnership with [private provider] Laureate to develop online courses, and partnered with a leading Swiss hospitality school to provide them with a London campus."
This is the only mention of "online" that I can find in the Guardian report.