Analysing the business model for higher education and why they can't

Am somewhat torn between the logic of this sort of approach to applying insights from broader business practice to higher education, and a slight shudder at the history of misuse that exists as folk mindlessly adapt business practices to higher education. Mindless, ill-informed, or perhaps simply naive adoption of techno-rational management approaches such as top-down, “strategic” thinking and aspects of quality management are amongst the biggest problems for higher education at the moment.

Not to mention that these techno-rational approaches (and their mindless application) are probably the biggest barrier to the type of critical analysis Tim Kastelle is recommending. The teleological nature of these approaches seeks to excise all innovation and difference in the pursuit of the strategic goal and the efficient means of achieving it. Consequently, such organisations don’t have the capacity to perform the analysis, let alone take action to implement/investigate any effective alternatives.

To a large extent, this is the problem facing large media companies. Especially those that are led by “dear leaders”. Actually, just finished a guilty escape of a book which has Prince Harry offering the following opinion

They weren’t thinking at all, Viv. That’s the problem with leadership cults. They’re red hot on getting sh*t done, once the big man has spoken, but not so good at weighing up whether that sh*t should have been done in the first place.

There’s another comment in the post about moving from a gatekeeping to a curating role in the entertainment industry. I know George Siemens and others have been suggesting that a curating role for a teacher is a useful way of moving forward.

I am wondering how that fits with an analysis of the business model of universities? Would it make sense? How would it happen?

Amplify’d from

This is why it is so critical to analyse your business model now, so that you understand why it works (or doesn’t), and so you know which parts are essential, and which can be changed more easily.



3 thoughts on “Analysing the business model for higher education and why they can't

  1. To some extent I share your hesitancy about applying business concepts to education. On the other hand, because universities play such an important role in society, I think it’s also important that they be well-managed. The trick is to be able to recognise which tools might help and which won’t. Quality management won’t help in higher ed at all. The thought that we would need to eliminate variance in the delivery of education is wrong on almost every conceivable level.

    I do think there is some value in thinking about the business model for universities. Not in order to maximise profit or efficiency, but in order to understand what value we’re actually creating. This is particularly important here in Australia, where universities are often viewed (wrongly) as only providing vocational training.

    In any event, plenty to think about here…

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