Education Outlook 2024

2024 Outlook: Education

Stay sharp for the year ahead.

See the big picture

The UK still has more universities in the top 100 and more international students than anywhere else in the world apart from the US – clear evidence we’re still a world leader in education.

Richard Robinson

Head of Education, Barclays Corporate Banking

Maintaining top marks

There’s no doubt in my mind that the UK is going to continue to be a global leader in education in 2024 and well into the future. After all, let's not forget how good we are at education and what a jewel in the crown the sector is to UK plc: our independent schools are considered among the best anywhere in the world and, with the exception of the US, the UK is the destination of choice for international students.1

I think it’s also clear just how important high-quality education provision is to the UK. Businesses in the UK need access to a workforce with the right skills to take advantage of new technologies, improve productivity and stay ahead of our international competitors. Quite simply, we can’t make progress in any other part of the economy without a thriving education sector.

Explore income diversification

As ever, the direction of government policy will loom large across all our education sectors, but with a general election expected this year, there’s more uncertainty than usual. The Labour Party has said it will introduce VAT on independent school fees and leaders across the sector will be watching the parties’ other election pledges very closely, whether it’s the cap on university fees or funding for multi-academy trusts and further education.

Given the likelihood of continuing funding restrictions, I think there will be an increasing need for leaders in the sector to explore income diversification in the year ahead. All education providers will likely find themselves thinking about how else they can generate more income and good margins from new commercial activities and by attracting more overseas students.

If you think about the young ‘customers’ in education, ESG is the thing they care about more than anything else so it's absolutely essential that education providers have a net zero strategy and are seen to be delivering on it.

Richard Robinson

Head of Education, Barclays Corporate Banking

Prioritising your spending

Pressure on income means all education providers will need to think carefully about their spending in 2024 but I think there are three areas that are key. For me, one priority has to be ESG – in particular, measures to meet net zero pledges – because demonstrable efforts to battle climate change, and to improve diversity, equity and inclusion, are increasingly important to all education stakeholders – not least students.

A second priority is investing in digital technology – whether that be online learning platforms, more effective use of data or the emerging potential of artificial intelligence. An important part of that should be protection against cyber-crime, including data breaches and fraud, which has been on the increase in all industry sectors over the past 12 months. – while still maintaining the right level of face-to-face teaching. Thirdly, there’s student experience and outcomes, which is critical in making an institution attractive to students and their parents but can require significant investment in campus facilities, accommodation and teaching staff.

Key takeaways

Know your purpose

Be clear about your institution’s mission vision and purpose – is it delivering better employability or great research facilities? Whatever it is, set your strategies for everything from marketing to recruitment to achieve that goal.

Get the student experience right

The education sector winners will be those that can demonstrate to students and parents that their institution will deliver a better experience and produce better results, whether that be employability, well-being or another metric.

Bring in outside help for transformation

With lots of challenges and opportunities ahead many education providers will likely need to go through some kind of transformation. That could be a cost restructuring or something more significant like a merger. Such transformation activity can bring enormous benefits but are challenging to implement. Successful transformations of this kind require a ‘meeting of minds’ between the educational providers involved and expert external advisers.

Keeping fraud front of mind

Fraudsters are as active as ever across Educational institutions, impersonating our colleagues and attempting to defraud our clients. To help protect you and your business we have a wealth of resources available. You can view our quarterly fraud webinars and take a look at our other educational resources on our Fraud Protection Hub.

Remember, Barclays will never:

Ask you to make payments or move money to a ‘safe’ account

Call and ask you to provide or enter your PIN or use your biometric device, for any reason

Take control of your computer.

Get in touch

Request a call back from our team and see how we can help you develop strategies for managing your business.

Under £6.5million (please visit https://www.barclays.co.uk/business-banking/‡ or call 0800 515 462)

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