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Prepare for the winds of change: ABC boss IRU Forum19 July 2012
UNIVERSITIES need to be aware of the tipping point that can transform the delivery of higher education in Australia, according to the head of the ABC, Mark Scott
The rapid change in technology and its social impacts mean that
all organisations, including universities, need to "leverage off
their strengths" as audiences migrate or the delivery mode changes
or the funding model shifts.
"Tipping points are really easy to see once you've moved through them," he warned, speaking at the Senior Staff Forum of the Innovative Research Universities held at Griffith University's Gold Coast campus this week.
One of the most influential media figures in Australia, Mr Scott said all industries faced similar challenges around the impact of technology on old business models.
He used the upheaval in the retail, music and newspaper industries as salient examples of his predictions.
The recorded music industry was worth $16b around 2000 before the emergence of download pioneers like Napster which eventually led to iTunes.
"The result a decade later, I would argue, is that customers have never had it so good. You have never been able to access so much music so cheaply," Mr Scott said.
"The recorded music industry now is worth about $8b - precisely half the size it was a decade ago."
With leading Australian newspaper companies Fairfax and News Limited recently announcing radical restructuring and job losses, the media industry too is going through a transformation.
"A decade ago the newspaper industry could see what was coming. They could understand that the internet could provide a better way of selling cars and jobs and homes.
"But the feeling was that they were doing so well, they were still making so much money, they had invested so much money in that (print) model that it was too difficult for them to move away.
"You can see what's happening now. Part of the crisis that you see with newspapers now is that they moved too late and were too slow to position themselves for change."
However, outside the forum Mr Scott said media and communications graduates from universities still had a strong future.
"It's going to be hard year for recruits, but beyond that I think those Communications courses have absolutely come to understand that relatively few of them (graduates) are going into traditional journalism roles.
"But partly it's their flexibility to be able to deal with all that that is the question."
The IRU forum brings together some of the leading universities in Australia including Griffith, Charles Darwin, Flinders, James Cook, La Trobe, Murdoch and Newcastle.
Mr Scott's presentation came straight after a compelling video link delivery from Dr Brad Wheeler, Vice President for IT and CIO, Dean, and Professor, Indiana University. Dr Wheeler also referred to the tipping point of universities.
The forum started on Wednesday and concludes Friday.