The events of 2020 dropped a decade’s worth of challenge and change into a single year for society, our culture and the way in which we work, relax, connect and learn. Across the UK’s higher education sector, any reluctance to embrace online and blended forms of learning was swept away by the tides of necessity, and many of the new approaches adopted during this crisis will be here to stay, or will further evolve to meet the new expectations of students.

The flexibility of learning that independent providers already offer will prove invaluable for meeting the diverse needs of people who live longer, learn longer, and lead increasingly complex and mobile lives. Institutions which are smaller, more agile, and can respond to educational and technological change will be those at the vanguard of this lifelong learning mission.

While technology will continue to make the world more connected, and to seem smaller than ever, many of the skills sought by those who wish to change or progress in their careers are still best taught in person with hands-on access to specialist tools and equipment. The place where people learn still matters, and so opportunities for specialist higher education and cutting-edge training must be spread widely to unlock the potential of learners all across the UK. This sense of place and the connections between our members, their industries and communities will help guide IHE’s work in promoting investment, growth and innovation over the next three years.

We will:

promote investment in and the expansion of new provision across all UK regions, by

  • advocating for economic policies which encourage more investment in higher education, and for the enhanced collection and publication of data to demonstrate its value
  • working with national and local governments, business and the third sector to identify opportunities and encourage new investment and enterprise
  • connecting IHE members and new providers with potential partners and investors

support the UK’s competitiveness in the global economy, by

  • helping members understand and respond with agility to emerging labour market needs
  • raising awareness of the role of specialist institutions in supporting economic growth in critical industries, and advocating policies to promote this role
  • helping regulatory bodies to avoid setting conditions which could stifle market entry,

innovation or less traditional models of provision

give students access to the widest possible range of innovative, flexible and tailored learning options, by

  • advocating policies to promote flexible lifelong participation in higher education and professional training, including digital, blended, modular and short course provision
  • ensuring IHE membership and support services remain accessible to the full diversity of the independent tertiary sector
  • raising the importance of the local accessibility of flexible and specialist provision

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