A number of metaphors have been used to describe the momentous change foreshadowed for the higher education sector. ‘Paradigm shift’ is quite conventional, but ‘disruptive innovation’has become quite fashionable as Clayton Christensen’s theory has been applied to higher education. ‘Tsunami’ is another firm favourite, but the recent report published by the British think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), has introduced the word ‘avalanche’ which, according to Michael Barber, one of the lead authors of the report, was inspired by an interview with the renowned historian Norman Davies in the FT late last year:
Historical change is like an avalanche. The starting point is a snow-covered mountainside that looks solid. All the changes take place under the surface and are rather invisible. But something is coming. What is impossible is to say when. Norman Davies
The Report (uploaded to Scribd and embedded below) runs to 77 pages, but is easy-to-read and contains some important messages for institutions looking to insulate themselves from the turmoil.