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Beyond horizon planning

The coming academic year will present challenges, but there are ways for UK universities to avoid the fate of ailing high street department stores.

It is the season of post-summer strategy away days—a time for university leadership teams to peer ahead into the fog of market and policy signals, and to consider which scenarios to plan for. The year ahead is especially hard to anticipate, dominated as it will be by the known unknowns of a Brexit deal (or none), a teetering parliament and Trumpian geopolitics.

While these outside factors may well produce game-changers for universities (and indeed for everyone else), they are hard to plan for because the range of possible outcomes is just too open-ended. Easier to predict are the more local developments within the higher education system that will provide the framework for institutions’ crystal-ball gazing. They fall into three categories: money, markets and policy.

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